Millennials and baby boomers may not agree on much—and there are some generational debates we just won't wade into—but these age groups at least agree that flexibility is a must-have. Per Insight, a recent survey by Instant Offices revealed that around 74 percent of millennials and 94 percent of baby boomers want flexibility in the workplace schedule. "The popularity of the 'standard' 9-5 appears to be on the decline as it looks as if most employees are interested in flexible hours and telecommuting," Insight notes.
As we previously discussed, millennials have paved the way for workplace flexibility, ranking it even higher than typical job search criteria. And this transformation comes as a surprise to their older peers. "Baby boomers and Gen X employers are frequently amazed (and dismayed) by the demand of millennials for flexibility over better compensation," Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab, wrote in a recent Forbes op-ed. "The desire for flexibility is now experiencing a generational convergence in the workplace. Most baby boomers did not demand nor experience flexibility at work in their youth."
"Soon the baby boomers may begin to reluctantly thank the millennials for ushering in a lifestyle … that will help enable quality living in retirement and older age tomorrow," Coughlin continued. "For some older workers, the flexibility to go from full-time to part-time can provide a smooth transition into a phased retirement. Other boomers need flexibility in order to provide care for an elderly parent or loved one suffering from illness."
Meanwhile, the transformation is almost complete—especially because flexibility is catching on with boomers, as well. In fact, flexibility is the second most-desired change in the workplace for baby boomers, according to a recent Ashridge survey. The top desired change? Better work-life balance, which flex can also assist.
It's important to keep the boomers happy, too, since they're here to stay for years and even decades longer. As Ladders reported earlier this year, 85 percent of boomers intend to work into their 70s or 80s.
Eventually, of course, baby boomers will retire. And as Werk co-founder and co-CEO Anna Auerbach pointed out here on WerkLife, flexibility will be "table stakes" as millennials and Gen Z become the largest segments of the workforce. "If companies want to poise themselves for growth as baby boomers transition out and these generations take over, flexibility must be a core part of their culture," she wrote.
In short, flexibility helps keep older generations of workers engaged while preparing the workplace for flexibility-minded younger generations. And you certainly don't see that level of cross-generational appeal every day!