Why Unified Communications Is Key to Meeting the Needs of the Millennial Workforce

While tales from Silicon Valley startups tend to sensationalize our notion of what millennial workers want from their places of employment (video games in the break room, Razor scooters to zip down hallways, omelet stations, full-time baristas, etc.), CXOs and IT decision-makers confront a very real challenge: determining which policies, benefits, services, products and technologies will allow their organizations to meet and exceed the communications expectations of the millennial workforce and allow them to communicate and collaborate more effectively.
To fully tap into the immense potential these younger workers offer, there are four technology strategies to consider:
1. Deploy technologies that reflect how millennials work
Organizations must first have a firm grasp of how millennials work, and deliver products and technologies that:
Satisfy an insatiable need for information 
Extend, rather than inhibit, mobility
Leverage their early adopter mindset 
Deliver unbounded flexibility 
2. Recognize dual persona needs of millennials
According to the Forrester, 35% of US information workers at companies with 1,000+ employees indicated a willingness to help pay for mobile devices used for personal and professional purposes. This indicates, among other things, that today’s workforce and the younger workers who comprise it place a premium on freedom of device choice – a premium they are willing to pay for.
Millennials represent an always-on, always-connected generation that brings its dynamic and diverse communications expectations to the office, which means that enterprises will need to plan for and manage the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workforce.
Accelerated BYOD adoption requires businesses to take a hard look at dual persona support for advanced communications services on personal or enterprise-provided devices. Through dual persona, employers will be able to separate business and personal voice and Unified Communications services (including business and personal contacts, call logs and chat sessions), while maintaining a secure environment on the device for business applications with data that is fully controllable by the enterprise.
3. Unify, rather than complicate, communications options
Enterprise decision-makers may be tempted to build a workforce communications strategy for millennials that is device or product-focused. It is difficult to project which devices, platforms and applications millennials will rely on six months from now, let alone six years from now.
A more enduring approach to meeting the communications needs of the millennial workforce is to focus on unifying their communications by providing a single user experience for UC services (voice, video, instant messaging & presence, collaboration, etc.) that extends across all employer-provided and BYOD devices, platforms and networks.
In a Gartner global survey of CIOs, 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016 and half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes by 2017, which means that the diversity of mobile devices that organizations need to support in the coming years will increase.
4. Look at how millennials communicate, not only what they communicate with
Earlier this year, business school professors at Washington University in St. Louis conducted an experiment among 214 undergraduates that hypothesized standing up – as opposed to being seated – felt less constricted to produce more ideas, and showed more engagement with peers.
The results of the experiment do not mean that offices around the country will be putting all desk chairs up for bid on eBay tomorrow, but it does reinforce the fact that millennial workers will not necessarily be most productive in a sedentary position for ten hours a day.
Remaining focused on how millennials communicate will dictate the devices and applications that will empower them to collaborate and improve productivity. The need for mobility and solutions that allow for uninterrupted communications as they move may prove increasingly key to unlocking workforce productivity in the future.
For example, technology that enables a work to seamlessly transition from a desk phone call to a video chat on their iPad or messaging chat on a smartphone not only supports millennials as they work outside of the office, but inside the office as well as workers seek more flexibility to communicate on the move.
Recognizing this, businesses should evaluate technologies and tools that facilitate greater ideation among the workforce. This could mean adding interactive screens in common areas as opposed to the traditional placement of projector screens around a conference table or re-thinking the design of meeting rooms.
This article excerpt, by Leslie Ferry, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1ue70dJ