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Three possible symptoms of Millennial attitudes and workplace evolution

Posted by: Laurence Simons 15/04/15

What will the future of law look like? It’s almost impossible to tell, but with an influx of Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000, and also known as “the Internet Generation” or Generation Y) there could be at least three notable shifts in attitudes towards working within the profession.

Technology outstrips tradition:

One of the most notable differences between Millennials and their predecessors is that they have largely grown up with an increased reliance on technology for work, social interaction and even recreation. A huge revolution is taking place as organisations everywhere are embracing digitalisation, and a generation of people who have already sat for countless hours using the internet as a learning resource, completing online courses and tests, socialising on social media, and playing video games on a Saturday morning is now entering the workplace. The benefits of soft skills such as effective researching, knowing how to network via a website or even just being able to touch-type are abilities that can only have positive effects on workplace activities, and skills which, largely, Millennials already have under their belts. Increased exposure to digital programmes often means that these candidates have their fingers on the pulse of technological advancement, seeing the latest iPhone or gadget as a must-have and navigating company IT systems with ease – can we deny that they have had a huge head start in a rapidly advancing technological revolution? And who can say what percentage of law firms’ processes will be digitalised in the next ten years?

Flexible working a norm:

This increased reliance on technology is facilitating the ability to work remotely; access to Skype, the mobility of using a laptop and even just the functionality to write emails on your phone all mean that work can be done without an employee needing to be in the office for the entire duration of their working week. It is a key component of the Millennial attitude that hours should be more flexible and that work itself is something to be completed rather than attended. It is undeniable that communication within global corporations isn’t reliant on phones anymore, and that there is a sense of the world becoming constantly connected through the invention of the internet – something which undermines the traditional “nine to five” mindset for those who understand that the internet, as well as the law, never sleeps.

“Job for life” a rarity:

Another key characteristic of the Millennials’ attitudes is that more and more want to invest their time in creating a portfolio of experience rather than forging a career in one firm for their whole working life. The emphasis on diversity and challenge as attractive workplace qualities is leading to a shift towards career mobility outside of just one organisation. This can create problems with retention for law firms, and it is becoming more important that positions are attractive to this generation not just on merit of company/position, but also for the work/life benefits Millennials desire.

So will Millennials revolutionise the workplace? That seems to be the golden question being discussed all over the world from here in the UK to New Zealand.