We live in an age of contradiction. And it’s holding Australia back. Right now, we’re living in the most connected age in history. With millennials now fully grown and in the workforce, we’re seeing our connected age on steroids. Not only can we speak to anyone on the planet instantly, no matter where they are, but we receive entertainment within the blink of an eye. We are living in the age of convenience.
Music, sport, news, conversation and anything related to services is just a click or swipe away. We want it now, and we get it now. The fact we even have Wi-Fi on planes is nothing short of amazing – the last true bastion of silence and disconnectedness has now been brought into the information age.
We are truly a 24/7 audience. But that connectedness comes at a price. And as it turns out, we’re not always comfortable with that price.
Think about any time you’ve had to connect to a call centre overseas. Or speak to a web customer service agent based in another country. Have you ever felt slightly annoyed that you’ve had to connect to someone who lives halfway across the world? Ever made a comment about how more jobs are going overseas?
It’s okay. We all get a little frustrated sometimes.
If we want to live in a truly inter-connected world, in which communication happens when we want it and how we want it, we have to be willing to understand that geographical borders are going to matter less. We’re going to need to be more diverse.
If you look around Australia, we’re not quite accepting of that reality just yet. We want an innovation boom, but the Australian political climate is one based on “Australia first.”
We cry foul whenever call centres move overseas, and politicians raise a stink anytime a business decides that it’s better off employing offshore workers to deliver a service that Australians simply don’t want to do. Forget about higher wages, which make it harder to provide a 24/7 service here – most Australians simply don’t want to work the types of hours that would require such a service to run in the first place.
What does that mean for business? Our mindset about this has to change. Not just for business, but for the country as a whole.
Take some advice from millennials. This is a generation less homogenous than ever before, more understanding and politically they’re ushering in changes like never before. Movements like the unexpected success of the Bernie Sanders campaign of 2016 show that millennials are eager for change, and they’re putting their money behind this change.
This is a generation that has grown up in a global world. They have friends from halfway across the world whom they have never met. And they’re happy to do business with those people as well. For instance, when younger people apply at my business for quick personal loans, they can do so without talking to anyone at all. So why do they care who works here?
This isn’t just about call centres. Younger entrepreneurs know that hiring from different cultures means they’re opening themselves up to greater avenues for business. As our world becomes more open and connected, making sure our workplaces reflect that world is all the more important.
Political rhetoric aside, we need to drop the “us vs them” game. It isn’t going to work. If we want an innovation boom to truly crate an age of convenience, we’re going to need a cultural boom as well – we need to hire across age, gender and national lines. And we shouldn’t be scared of it – it can bring us more prosperity than we’ve ever imagined.
Clayton Howes, CEO, MoneyMe