Up until now, the professional life of an American corporate worker has appeared relatively standard and unchanging, at least in my view.

We dress nice. We go in to work (whether a suite or a standalone building or wherever). We sit in a cubicle and open our computer. We work, adhering to and partaking in respective routines. We may stop to eat lunch in a café. Then around five, we leave. But it won’t continue to be scripted this way – not for Millennials. Changes are in the works.

Millennials are quickly infiltrating and defining American business culture, infusing it with new energy, a fresh way of looking at things, and a different way of working. Their minds, needs, wants, inhibitions – they’re just different than the norm that’s been established for so long. Millennials are less structured, less restrained. They’re freer, but more opinionated. More reluctant to accept the way things are.

As a result, corporate infrastructure, as well as the societal norms that have been sewn into the typical American business –even the process by which we accomplish work and the kind of work we do – are all likely to see some pretty interesting changes within the next 10 to 20 years.


I predict 7 changes as Millennials further saturate the job market and take over American business.

Outdoor desks.

Okay, maybe not literally. I’m not saying everyone’s going to suddenly relocate to some kind of bizarre outdoor workspace. But it is possible that managers and employees – especially in warm climates – will matriculate to less-restricted workspaces, such as company balconies, patios, or specially-designed outdoor work spaces to encourage employees’ free-flowing creativity. Some colleges have built outdoor study cubes for the same reasons.

Fewer meetings.

While some meetings are necessary, I’ve yet to come across anyone who liked to have many of them. Millennials will collectively embrace the value of their time, especially when excessive meetings tug away at their time and day. And when the need presents itself for the occasional check-in or conference call, they’ll likely be accompanied with drinks or music or dinner or something to dull the pain.

Couches, TVs, ping pong.

It’s commonplace to have couches, TVs, and ping pong matches in many business settings today. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility to expect movie theatres, game rooms, basketball courts and workout facilities to begin to show up as part of our workplaces. Millennials enjoy a stable work-life balance, and sometimes you just need a break from the humdrum work life…while at work. Nevertheless, these places can also be good meeting places outside of the typical conference room, and will actually help to create more meaningful friendships with coworkers.

Workload will dictate work hours.

An impending change is on the way in terms of our workplace rituals. The focus and expectation will turn to the timely and accurate completion of work, not hours worked per week. It’ll become commonplace for employees to work three or four hours on a sunny summer day, hit the links for 9 holes, and hop back online later in the day, or put in extra time the next day. Work ethic and dedication will actually see a significant increase that will come with expanded flexibility. Productivity and workplace satisfaction will dramatically increase with a corresponding increase in work-life balance so long as quality work continues to be created.

Colleagues will be friends and vice-versa.

This is nothing new, but just a continuation of a very common occurrence today. When we spend 40-60 hours per week working alongside like-minded people, bonds develop. Colleagues will continue to build lasting friendships with the people they spend the most time with, and this will transpire to cumulative quality and efficiency within the workplace. It’s also conceivable that as the job marketplace becomes ever more competitive, more entrepreneurs will rise up and join together with friends who share a common vision for a business venture.

Less structure but more process.

Today’s structured business models and way of thinking about how an organization ought to function will be questioned. Millennials will create their own ways of doing things. Socially-savvy and digital natives, they will focus less on selling, and more on creating value. Job titles will develop into more creative-sounding, original labels. The focus will be on teamwork and not on the corporate ladder – leaders will be hands-on, collaborating daily with others. And everything will be digital-first. The silos will be brought down for a less structured feel, but this will invariably result in greater organizational efficiency and appreciation for the creative process.

Making the world a better place with a noble purpose – not profit – will be the business goal.

Do you think the majority of TOMS employees go into work each day more concerned about how they can increase revenue for the company, or how they can embrace and grow the company’s ideology to help ensure every human being has a pair of shoes? It is possible for for-profit businesses to remain profitable by focusing less on money, and more on cause-related marketing.

Millennials love this philosophy since, for the first time in history, salary is not the top driving force behind work they do – purpose is, and money comes with that. The non-profit sector will experience significant growth, and Millennials will run the engine. For-profit companies which obviously require revenue to stay in business and compete will continue to prosper, but be governed by a fundamentally different ideology – working toward a common humanitarian effort of some sort that pushes the world forward.

The common theme here? Millennials are individuals, and want to be treated as individuals.  So is it any secret that the market is trending toward true Individualized Marketing as well?  What are your thoughts?