Forfusion’s ‘boomerang’ marketing executive gave his perspective on technology’s role in building a Northern Powerhouse in the New Statesman’s first ever Northern Powerhouse supplement: Smarter working habits are needed to build Northern Powerhouse says Sean Ball, Marketing Executive of Forfusion Ltd.
Something we do, not somewhere we go
As a millennial graduate working at a young technology company that has achieved double-digit growth since relocating to the North East in 2011 (after being founded in London in 2007), I (and my company) fly in the face of the commentators who line up to declare ‘skills shortage’ and ‘brain drain’ pandemics in the North.
I have had the pleasure of working for multinational brands in the big city and elsewhere, however I voluntarily ‘boomeranged’ back to my home region of the North East in 2014 in search of a better quality of life, bringing the skills and experience with me.
And I’m not alone. More and more research is finding that millennials (a term used for those reaching maturity in the 2000s) are recognising the appeal of smaller firms, regardless of location. There are a number of reasons for this trend, but I believe the most significant is quality of life.
Work / life balance integration
The millennial generation is becoming wise to the fact that rapid advances in technology are levelling the playing field. It is no longer essential to stay or relocate to London to secure a decent paying job with exciting career prospects. In fact, for younger workers, it is getting more difficult to obtain a decent paying job in London (relative to house prices, which have reached an average of £400,000 for first time buyers), especially one that offers exciting career prospects without compromising personal life priorities and goals.
Playing a more significant role in making a tangible difference to a growing company is seen as more rewarding and fulfilling than working for a big brand and being a small cog in a big machine.
Similarly, favourable cost of living and lush landscapes and scenery are becoming central for a millennial’s concept of a good quality of life. The North suddenly becomes very appealing…
Talent attraction and retention of millennial and succeeding generations is going to make or break the ambitions for a Northern Powerhouse (especially here in the North East, the region which tends to get neglected in Northern Powerhouse discussions).
It is up to companies, not politicians (who recently announced a relocation of the Department for Business, Innovative & Skills’ Northern Powerhouse office from Sheffield to London…) to make employment opportunities flexible and exciting, so that younger talent can integrate, rather than balance work and life priorities.
A powerhouse of power-users
The usage of collaboration tools is exploding. Usage of the top four messenger apps has overtaken the usage of the top four social networks, some commentators believe by up to 20%.
Workers of all ages, not just millennials, are coming to expect to have the same ability to collaborate with one another for work as they do in their personal lives. This is so that they can work flexibly, spending less time commuting or in an office without compromising on their productivity or efficiency.
If northern organisations fail to meet these needs, workers will either go out and use unsecured, consumer apps such as WhatsApp or Slack, or worse, leave!
As a disruptive technology company, Forfusion practices what it preaches. Its flexible working policy is at the very heart of our dynamic, socially-responsible and innovative culture. We’ve designed what is known as a Unified Communications & Collaboration infrastructure, so that we can enable better work / life integration with our office-based colleagues, as well as access new talent pools outside of our North East region.
If we are serious about making the Northern Powerhouse a reality and not just a political soundbite, we all need to think about how we can make employment opportunities desirable to the future generations. This means rethinking the traditional 9-to-5 office based notion of work.