Are businesses ready for the “net native” generation?

As the ‘net native’ generation looks set to join the workforce in the coming months, new research confirms the high expectation levels of teenagers of the technology resources and environment of their prospective employers.

Emphasising the link between 16-18 year olds’ use of the latest technology at “home” and the preferred use of social media networks to maintain key relationships, the research found that one in four will expect to be provided with a smartphone, whilst more than one in six will want Facebook access during work.

The research surveyed hundreds of US and UK teenagers about their future workplace expectations, to help businesses prepare for the demands of the employees of tomorrow. Whilst the recession has caused a known impact on recruitment, companies still recruiting new graduates will increasingly use technology as a method for attracting the best new employees.

“I’ll have an ipad and a smartphone”

The research has found that teenagers seek to mirror the technology that they use at home when they enter the workforce, with 40 per cent wanting a laptop when they start work, and a further 13 per cent also anticipating a tablet.

The majority of teenagers surveyed believe it will help them to be more productive, with nearly 70 per cent saying smartphones and tablets will make it easier to do their jobs, and over half (55 per cent) said it will make them more efficient in the workplace.

Social networking in the workplace

Access to applications like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter will also be very important for establishing networks, collaboration and communication in future UK workplaces, but not necessarily with management. This supports the “mirroring” effect of technology, as teenagers seek to replicate the tools and communication channels they already use at home, when they move into the workplace.

Geo-location features like Facebook places and Foursquare will also be used in business environments in the future, with 15 per cent saying they’ll use them for work to share their location.

UK versus US

As for the work/life blur experienced by many already in the workplace, this is expected to continue amongst a new generation of employees in the UK. However, UK teens are more likely to think that this technology will persuade them to work out of hours (32 per cent) than their US contemporaries, with only 18 per cent of American teens thinking that BlackBerrys and iPads will require them to work into the evening.

With an estimated 320,000 set to graduate this summer (and graduate recruitment placements rising by 9.4 per cent), businesses need to ensure that they have the right technology in place to attract the top talent. To retain and maximise the productivity of “net natives”, organisations need to align their communications and technology environments to allow effective collaboration and information flow.

Today’s working environment is all about enabling individuals to select the most appropriate communication channel to the task at hand. Be it over audio, video, social networking, web collaboration all initiated from a variety of devices, the advances in enterprise communications allows a rich user environment and organisations need to ensure they are maximising the productivity and knowledge of both current and future employees.

As an experienced IT professional Adrian Brookes has a solid foundation in technology, commercial awareness, budget management and how technology has a positive impact upon business. Adrian holds experience in both the end user and manufacturer segments (SME, Large Enterprise, & Carrier), and this has given him enormous experience to understand the problems faced by multi-national large enterprises working in varying vertical sectors (Government/Federal, Financial, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Media, Pharmaceutical, & Transportation). Adrian has 23 years of professional IT experience and 10 years experience as a professional manager. He joined Siemens Enterprise Communications six years ago and currently leads the company’s strategy and technology vision in his role as Vice President Strategy and Technology Office.