More blurring of lines between personal and work lives, a greater emphasis on social media engagement and stronger views on technology are some of the trends that may shape the workplace of the future, suggests a new study by CompTIA titled, “Managing the Mutigenerational Workforce.”
This study and research examines how generational issues are changing workforce dynamics today and into the future.
“Like the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that preceded them, Millennials have strong preferences and priorities on what they think the workplace should look like,” said Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA.
“It will be interesting to see if these preferences become the norm as more millennials enter senior leadership positions; or if millennials change their views as they take on greater responsibilities to clients, communities, employees and shareholders.”
Younger workers, who’ve grown up in an era where flexibility is the norm, expect flexibility to extend to their work arrangements. Millennials want to work for companies that offer an option to telecommute, even if it means accepting a lower salary. Companies that don’t offer a telecommuting option are viewed as old fashioned.
Across all age groups, the majority of workers want an arrangement that features some days in the office and some days at home, with a greater number of days in the office. The collaboration, connection and creativity that results from face-to-face interaction with co-workers remains important to employees regardless of age.
Employees in their 20s and 30s are much more likely to use social media, such as Facebook, for work purposes – about three in 10 within each age group. By contrast, less than 20 percent of Baby Boomers use Facebook for work purposes and 25 percent do not use Facebook at all, for work or personal use.
The blurring of lines between work and personal lives – and the information being shared via social media channels – is cause for concern among businesses and acknowledged as a potential problem by employees. The majority of workers across all age groups (64 percent) believe that social media adversely impacts productivity at work.
“Organizations should seriously consider building a policy around social media to define proper behaviors and minimize the risk of sensitive data being shared,” Robinson said.
This may be tricky in the workplace of the future. However, younger workers see a greater connection between social media and their work and feel that their social media skills are an important element of the skill set they bring to their jobs.
Three-quarters of Millennials say a company’s technology usage is a factor in their employment decisions, compared to just over half of Baby Boomers.
“The data also suggests that younger workers are more apt to feel that their employer is pushing the technology envelope, suggesting that they’re taking greater advantage of what’s being offered,” said Anna Matthai, manager, research and market intelligence, CompTIA. “As the world becomes more digital, businesses with the best technology will be in the best position to compete for and hire younger workers.”
When it comes to their comfort level and ability to use technology, 70 percent of Millennials label themselves as “cutting edge” or “upper tier.” For Gen X workers, the corresponding figure is 55 percent, and for Baby Boomers, 30 percent.
Email remains the most prevalent form of workplace communications, but newer forms of communications such as Skype, text and instant messaging are claiming an increasingly bigger footprint, especially among workers under the age of 50.
When technology support issues arise in the workplace younger workers are more inclined to turn to instant messaging, video chat and the use of mobile apps for resolution. They’re also open to the use of social media for IT support related to maintenance, repair and troubleshooting of devices and applications.
Even as businesses work to figure out how to blend the three generations currently in the workforce, another generation is nearly ready to make its appearance.
Different labels have been applied to this generation—Gen Z or Digital Natives seem to be the leading candidates—and the defining characteristics are yet to be determined. One thing is clear, though: this generation will have the deepest relationship with technology of any generation.
Today’s youth are not just growing up with technology all around them; they also have a strong devotion to the devices and software woven into their daily lives.
Technology allows them to stay connected, be productive, and learn new things. They may not fully appreciate the rapid advances brought on by Moore’s Law over the past several decades, but they recognize that the lifestyle they enjoy is enabled by the technology they use.
BYOD has not become the force that many imagined just a few years ago. Only 40% of all workers say that they use personal devices for work, though age certainly factors into this equation. The post-PC era is also not quite here yet—desktops and laptops are still heavily used along with Smartphone, with tablets lagging behind.
Changes in software are also playing out slowly. Locally installed business productivity suites still dominate usage patterns, although online productivity suites are making headway.
Job-specific applications are used more by a younger generation, but this is in large part because these types of applications have become much more available thanks to new development processes.
Image credit: slideshare.net