POSTED 22 Mar 2016
Student at Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne.
Welcome to a new feature at the Future of Work blog, Millenial Musings. We asked students who have recently studied a Future of Work subject to muse on the place in the future of work. Enjoy.
As a student in my final year of university, it’s time to start thinking about that dark, scary abyss that comes after graduation – my future in the workforce. I paint it as a dark, scary abyss because of all the unknowns and uncertainties current graduates face as we step into the world of ‘real grown ups’ (aka. the full-time working sort). Our shiny new degrees no longer guarantee work after graduation and our future of work is rather murky. So, what do we know about the workplace we’re about to (attempt to) enter into?
There are megatrends at work that are shaping the future of employment within a variety of industries. The biggest, and most obvious, trend is that of technology. The day-to-day intricacies of work are changing mostly due to the introduction of various technologies that replace menial jobs or facilitate communication and efficiency.
Most of us think of evolving technology as the unveiling of the newest Apple product. However, when it comes to the world of work, tech advancements will knock you out of your seat – literally! The portability of today’s technology means more people than ever before will work from home, or ‘telework’, instead of sitting at an office desk.
I’m sure you’ve seen the clip of the Evolution of the Desk that did the rounds on the internet recently. This perfectly illustrates how the tools once used in the office space have now been condensed into simple functions and apps on the ubiquitous smart phone. We can carry our work around in our pockets (not a particularly exciting thought, I know).
So why, oh why, would we sit in a stuffy office when we could pick a park bench in the sunshine, or sip a coffee at our favourite café? All the while, we can type away on our Wi-Fi connected laptops or respond to emails on our smartphones. It’s a no-brainer, really.
But what about the flip side, when our ever-present technology becomes invasive instead of convenient? By having access to work emails at our fingertips, we might feel pressure to check them more regularly. In fact, co-workers or leaders may make us feel like we are obliged to. I encountered this attitude recently at my part-time job in a deli (of all places!).
Someone called in sick and we had to find a replacement for that evening. My co-worker texted a few of the other girls to see if someone would come in to cover the shift. Not five minutes after she’d sent the message, she was in a huff because no one had responded yet. “It’s so annoying when people don’t reply,” she said, “because I know they’ve probably got their phones in their hands anyway and they’re ignoring my message.” It had been five minutes! Even if they sat by their phones, they could’ve gotten up to make a cup of coffee and not seen the message yet. Regardless, it was their day off and maybe they weren’t interested in coming in to work a late shift.
The fact is the omnipresence of technology in both our work and private lives probably means they’re going to leak into each other quite a bit. The urge to be up to date on all emails and work communications is sometimes too tempting. However, us Millennials will just have to learn when to put the smartphones down and enjoy our time away from work – it’s precious!
As a Millennial, the presence of technology in the workplace seems like an obvious reality, but the question is, how fluent do we need to be? The general expectation to have in-depth tech knowledge is increasing exponentially with each generation. For example, students are now learning to write code in I.T. classes, even at primary school! Meanwhile, Baby Boomers like my Dad are still typing with a single index finger – despite having worked in an office for 35 years! (Sorry, Dad.) With these expectations, having sound I.T. skills are part and parcel of work now, and in the future.
Thankfully, I can type with more than one finger at a time, however it’s probably time for me to brush up on my I.T. skills. My Year 9 I.T. classes seem far, far away and software is evolving so very quickly. Being ‘natives’ of technology, us Millennials have no excuse for falling behind when it comes to our tech talents. If we can experiment with ridiculous Snapchat filters daily, we can stay on top of the constant changes in technology and prepare ourselves for the increasing demands in our future of work.
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