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EYMD 2016: Watch: What young Europeans want their future workplace to be like

Posted on: 21.05.2016

Strasbourg, May 20, EYMD 2016

by Rikke Mathiassen and Christiana Bedei

Digital work environments should allow flexibility and self-development without compromising on security

“For politicians it is sometimes difficult to understand what young people want. This is one option of doing this, this ideas lab”.

Björn Warkalla, from Planpolitik — a German company that designs solution-driven events around political and social issues — is challenging young people from the European Youth Event 2016 to rethink the future of work.

At the ideas lab Smart workplace: The relativity of space and time, the best concepts were presented to Stephen Clark, the director for relations with citizens of the European Parliament.

Watch the videos below to learn more about the most popular suggestions.

The end of 9–5: Elisabetta Meconcelli, Italian participant of the EYE 2016, dreams of a world where the employee has a much greater say in when to work — and when not to work.

Young people want to be in charge of their own time, and the concept of flexibility was one of the major themes discussed at the ideas lab. As Stephen Clark puts it:

“The whole idea of flexibility has all kind of different dimensions — it can be flexibility in working practices, in the time you work, in the specific hours you’re supposed to work, or in the content of your work”.

But the freedom of being your own manager comes with a whole new set of challenges. Despite being generally positive towards the concept, Clark worries that flexibility might turn into an alibi “to take over your life” and never stops working.

In today’s world of work, employers have the upper hand, Emelie Lindstróm, from Sweden, says. Her idea is an unconditional, basic salary to ensure security for workers.

In the era of zero-hour contracts, the wish for flexibility doesn’t mean that young people don’t want security.

“When we talk about security often people say: ‘Oh! that is for the old world, old people, and it’s all a bit boring’,” says Clark. “But I don’t think that’s true, I think security is important, even for cool people. Because you need to be able to plan something, getting married, having kids, whatever, as well as your career”.

Paid playtime is productive. That is the philosophy behind German participant Lorez Neuner’s vision of a smarter workplace, which would allow employees to develop their own projects at work.

Even those with a stable job need room for personal development to benefit both the individual and the company.

Internet giant Google already practices this philosophy by allocating 20 percent of the software developers’ work time — one day a week, that is — to spend on personal side projects.

“It’s almost become like a sort of cliché, to talk about the “Google 20 Percent”, Clark says, noting that the concept might soon be incompatible with the reality of flexible work.

“What is 20 or 25 percent of your working hours, if you don’t have working hours? In fact, more and more, working the 9 to 5 is a model that is disappearing.”

The EYE participants’ ideas for a smarter world of work will be collected in a report to be presented to the members of the European Parliament.

At EYE 2016 in Strasbourg young people presented their ideas to shape the future work landscape. Photo: Rikke Mathiassen.

At EYE 2016 in Strasbourg young people presented their ideas to shape the future work landscape. Photo: Rikke Mathiassen.


More stories from the EYMD.

© European Youth Media Days 2016 (EYMD 2016)