“Oh, Why Don’t You Just Go Home”

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23rd Aug 2014

5 min read

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More Millennials say YES to staying home

“When you ask Millennials where they’d like to work, the answer is generally: First, Google; second, Apple; and third, for themselves.”
Jamie Gurfreund in a Forbes article.

It may be a generalisation of young people of the workforce, but let’s face it: either you are one of the above, or you know someone who is.

As a collective, Millennials are gaining notoriety for our starkly different demands and behavioural patterns in the workplace when placed next to our folks and older cousins.

While some are gross misunderstandings of our capacity and ethics (lazy, unmotivated – we have heard it all), others may somewhat be true (we want a casual work environment, and no nine-to-five desk jobs, thanks).

The good news is, the big fish are hearing us: many of the more ‘traditional’ multinationals as well as younger companies are adapting their workplace and work styles to attract and retain young employees, including heavyweights like Cisco, EY and Google.

In fact, Leaderonomics is no exception to the trend. We were recently featured as one of the top 10 most inspiring offices in Malaysia in an article published in Star Property.

A notable and highly popular criteria in choosing an employer is the culture of the workplace, especially in having flexible work hours.

Cisco, having acknowledged this, claims that there’s a “desire for more flexibility on where, when, and how work gets done, with continuous movement from work to personal activities and back again throughout their working hours”.

Working from home for younger folks

We are so bent on it that Millennial Branding research says 45% of Millennials would rather have workplace flexibility over better pay.

In fact, just remove the office entirely out of the equation; more of us would simply like to work from home.

Working from home, telecommuting, remote working – call it what you like – the concept is not new nor novel: Deloitte has 86% working out-of-office at least 20% of the time, and 82% of Intel employees regularly work remotely.

Among the older folks, working from home is a desirable thing, often among parents with young children or professionals and senior managers who are probably motivated to perform anyway, no matter where they are.

It has its many advantages – apart from the increasingly absurd Kuala Lumpur rush-hour traffic – and contrary to initial impressions, it can actually raise productivity.

Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, has found that higher productivity is attributed to the fact that people at home worked longer. “They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day.”

Flexible workplace – what you should consider before committing

With today’s advancement in communication, it seems so much easier – not to mention exciting – to work outside an office, especially since we have the liberty to choose where we would like to set up camp, what we wear and how loud we blast the music. But is it really as fun and easy as it seems?

There are an increasing number of young companies and individuals in Malaysia who dare down the path of (gasp!) working from home. A few have shared with me about the perks and setbacks of such a lifestyle.

Here are some important things you should consider before jumping to it:

1 Discipline is not a joke

“The key to making it work is discipline with time management and goals,” says Nasri Lian, who has been working as a freelance videographer since graduating six years ago.

Without great discipline and clear targets to achieve, it is easy to get distracted working at home.

“The thought of completing a chore, fixing something, turning on the TV or even paying a house bill only slows down the productivity rate,” he says.

“It becomes rather difficult when there are more people living in the same house because chances of interference may rise.”

Nasri debunks the oft-said presumption that those who work at home have more free time. “The myth about working from home is being able to work less, which is the ideal goal. However, it takes time to reach such a point,” he says. “Some people get in expecting it too soon, and call it quits earlier than they should.”

2 Fix culture and ground rules

Wago Communications, a company which decided to give up its brick and mortar for remote working earlier this year, makes it a policy for the team to meet twice a week for a catch-up meeting. They also have a bit of fun with that – there’s a ground rule against visiting the same café twice.

“When we do meet, it’s very productive and impactful,” says Zain HD, founder of Wago. “Everyone is more aware of what they and their colleagues are up to.”

Lim Feixiang, a Wago employee, expresses the need for clear habits and guidelines to remain productive.

“We fixed a policy where you need to reply emails within a two-hour time frame,” says Lim. “Besides that, work habits hardly changed as we’re still as busy and get things done on time.”

3 Relationships

While working at home means you have the freedom to decide between work and social time, you miss out on a lot of essential human connection that is easily available in the office environment.

Especially in creative and troubleshooting situations, less face-to-face translates to a loss in terms of generating productive discussions and feedback.

“After all, we’re human,” says Nasri. “Conversations with our peers stimulate emotions which may lead to creative thinking needed for work.”

Bonding is also important for mentorship and being able to leverage on your colleagues’ knowledge and experiences.

Lim adds,

“Relationships within the team are important to build your career, and has the ability to open doors for you.”

Out-of-Office: Is it for you?

Although it allows flexibility, working from home does not mean you simply break out of the usual office hours.

“I would suggest taking nine-to-five as a rule of thumb to get things done and no more work after that,” says Nasri.

“It might not be for everyone,” he adds. “Some people work better under leaders where great things happen in both work and personal life.”

In fact, Bloom’s research finds that some may actually prefer the office space. “The younger workers whose social lives are more connected to the office tend to not want to work from home as much.”

“We know we can get high performance, but what about the soft stuff? We still get remarks by staff that they miss the office, and the togetherness that comes with it,” says Zain. “A part of me reckons that although it is working, it is not solved yet.”

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DIODE Camps

Wondering what to do during the upcoming December school holidays? Want to do something fun and productive and explore how to lead like a superhero? Discover your potential in DIODE Camps! DIODE Camps are designed to help youth aged 12– 19 build the foundations of leadership and allow youth to explore their skills and talents in a safe environment through experiential learning sessions. Sign up for the DIODE Camps http://leaderonomics.org/youth or e-mail us at diode@leaderonomics.com to find out more! Hurry! Camp seats are selling like hot cakes!

Dates:
· Dec 1–6, 2014 | Dec 15–20, 2014 [Youth Leadership Camps: 14–16 YO] · Dec 3–6, 2014 | Dec 17–20, 2014 [Tweens Leadership Camp: 12–13 YO] · Dec 8–13, 2014 [School Leavers Camp: 17–19 YO]

Venue:
· Starfresh AgroPark, Seremban [Youth Leadership Camps & Tweens Camps] · SUFES Campsite, Tapah [School Leavers Camp]

Sabrina Kamaruddin has spent the past year helping undergraduates realise their leadership potential, as part of the team at Leaderonomics Campus team. You can email her at editor@leaderonomics.com

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