If you’re lucky enough to be a millennial in the workplace . . . or any workplace for that matter, chances are you’re underemployed. Not only that but you’re probably carrying in excess of $20,000 in college debt for a degree in liberal arts that you were encouraged to get to “further your career.” I distinctly remember being told to get a degree, any degree, if I wanted to get a job after college. Hence I graduated with honors in Philosophy. Bah.
Out into the workforce with a broad based education focused on problem solving and thinking, I was forced to take a position in a company dominated by baby boomers. It quickly became apparent that trading time for a wage was not the way ahead. In this recession those of us in Generation Y owe it to the economy to solve this problem, and to do that, we need to be outside of the office.
Telecommuting will allow Generation Y to get out of the office, get the work done, and be even more productive than ever. Exactly what the country called for. Here’s how you do it.
Change the Culture
It’s important to realize when dealing with a business culture dominated by another generation, you’re playing by their rules. They show up at 9, leave at 5 and, by in large, take the weekends off. That’s now how generation Y works. Workplace psychologists have discovered that people produce up to 40% more work product when they work on their own schedule.
In other words, when we work when we feel productive, in the aggregate, we produce a great deal more. 9 – 5 is simply not efficient – but that’s what we’ve been taught the workplace ideal is. That’s when people work.
You have to change the culture. You have to send emails after hours or on the weekends. Notice I did not say “respond” to emails, I said send emails. You want to produce after hours, you do not want to create a culture wherein you’re working for free. You do not want to expand your underemployed servitude.
Plant the seed in your bosses mind that even when you’re not in the office being micromanaged, you’re taking an ownership stake in the work you do there.
Change the Way You Work
When I started my last position the project management system was archaic at best. Everything was handled on paper or vocally with absolutely no documentation or follow up. Handwritten notes in a manila folder. It wasn’t exactly conducive to the team culture of the company’s mission statement.
When I came in I began to migrate the projects my team was working on to an online project management system. Everything our team did was in a PDF, well documented email chains and most importantly, online. That last part meant that our team was no longer tied to the office. We didn’t need to be in any one place at the same time.
This is key. You move to the online management system, like Basecamp from 37Signals.com, while you’re in the office. That level of collaboration makes being in the office seem silly.
Make The “Ask”
Once the collaborative nature of your new online system is up and running you need to make the ask. You’ve taken an ownership stake in the organization. You’ve worked harder and produced more. You’ve thought like a partner in the company.
At this point you aren’t so much asking as you are asserting that this is the best way you can accomplish the job you were hired to do. In life there are few times, if you set it up properly and deserve it, where doing and apologizing later doesn’t beat asking first.
Your work will back up your behavior.
When you’re faced with an underemployed situation in this economy, you need to reduce the amount of soul crushing time you spend in that situation. By taking an ownership stake in the organization you’re showing you’re committed to the work, being there a long time and that your work is to be trusted.
Not only are you doing a better job but you’re accomplishing what you set out to do. Work from anywhere, get the job done and reduce the amount of time (life’s most precious commodity) spent unnecessarily in a brick and mortar office.