Entrepreneur in Residence at Columbia Business School (CBS), New York, and Founder, AL Academy, Mr. Austin Okere, has identified the challenges of the future workforce in a workplace environment, attributing it to the emergence of a new culture.

According to him, as the workplace becomes more millennial, a new cultural trend that challenges the traditional ethos that have held sway since the days of Adam Smith had been emerging.

“The enterprise as we have hitherto known, is defined by her purpose, values, culture and vision. As the company is not able to direct her own affairs, this function is entrusted by the promoters of the business, being the shareholders to custodians, being directors, who in turn appoint managers to run the daily affairs of the company.”
This group of people he said, know no other work, pledging their full working time and allegiance to the enterprise by whom they are employed and paid. They are the typical company man.

Okere, however, said as more millennials were becoming working age adults, there was a gradual but strong shift in the trend, that threatens to fundamentally change the structure of the enterprise as it is known today.

“To start with, millennials do not want to seek employment in a company, preferring rather to become entrepreneurs in charge of their own affairs, notwithstanding that they may not have the mechanism and full complement of resources that we would have deemed necessary to embark on such a venture in the past.

“They are typically a one-man enterprise selling slices of time and talent; or a few friends coming together to offer their skills to anyone who wants them for a project, and moving onto other projects, possibly with other companies.

“They do not want to be an integrated part of any company, nor be bound by any restrictions of time and space. They typically work from home, parents garage or coffee shop.

“They tend to be very good at their niche, aided by the ubiquity of technology and their deep command of it. They do not want to clock hours at work but rather to be paid on the outcome of their deliverables,” describing them as enablers.

He said today’s workplace was beginning to divide into the two groups: custodians, who are typically baby boomers and enablers, who are typically millennials.

“A recent survey that I conducted on LinkedIn shows that even within the custodian’s there is a growing tension about whether they have a right to embark on their own side businesses, the argument being that it enhances creativity and entrepreneurial acumen.

“They also claim that it is very widespread, albeit undercover, and that it is about time it came out into the open within an appropriate governance structure.

“There is also the question of whether they need to commute all the way in traffic to the workplaces and face the same traffic going home; or they could work from home and deliver the output of their jobs much the same way as the millennials tend to do,” Okere said.

Okere, is of the view that technology has always had a double-edged sword in organisational relationships.
According to him, technology could be a bridge or a barrier, depending on how it is used in the firm.
“Technology enables connections but does not necessarily enhance relationships. Relationship is key, because relationship is about influence, and influence is leadership.”