I’m sure many experienced professionals can relate to this: You watch the young people entering the workplace, tooled up with gadgets, able to manage multiple social networks and instantly adapt to any technology put in front of them. Meanwhile, you’re left mystified by the IT team talking to you about gateways, IP addresses and file directories down the helpline.
Those of us in Generation X are fairly adaptable, having grown up with fancy new tech hitting the market in our youth. Baby Boomers sometimes need help adopting new technology, and can sometimes be resistant to change.
But we need all generations’ input to create successful organisations, and that includes nurturing younger talent. Generation Y, Millennials – call them what you will – have grown up with technology, they’re used to accessing, creating, editing and sharing content on the go, and, equally, they expect the same flexibility in the workplace.
At Polycom, we recently studied the working habits of 24,000 businesspeople around the world, and compared the perception of different age groups to flexible working. The youngest demographic (aged 16-29) displayed some interesting traits.
For starters, when it comes to remote working, they fully understand the efficiency potential; they are the most likely to agree that being able to work anywhere can make you more productive (69%) and are most likely of any age group to believe that meetings can be concluded quicker and easier (28%). Similarly, they are the least likely age group to worry that remote working will mean they work longer hours (52%), probably because they are accustomed to technology while older demographics may harbour more reservations of what remote working really means.
However, they are the most like demographic to worry that their office-based colleagues will perceive them as not working as hard (66%), but at least likely to worry about working longer hours from home (52%). This is probably because they are so adept with technology that they know how to work efficiently while older people may not be as accustomed to working remotely and fear it will consume them.
Our study found that the 16-29-year-old age bracket are the most positive about remote working technology’s ability to build relationships with their colleagues, but are the most likely to want both guidance on remote working from Human Resources (HR) and regular calls with management. On the personal front, two in five (38%) see one of the key benefits of flexible working as the ability to do more exercise!
The message is clear from younger workers – they want to commute less and be able to work flexibly. They know how to manage their work and personal lives with technology, and they expect their employers and potential employers to do the same. Flexible working could be a key factor in whether or not a company can attract and maintain the best young talent, so if this a challenge for your organisation then it’s time to act.