Adapting the workplace for the next generation

According to research carried out by Johnson Controls’ Global Work-Place Innovation in Germany, United Kingdom, United States and China in 2011, digital natives (80 million individuals born in the 1980s) spend 27 percent of their time on the Internet communicating with friends. An additional 20 percent they spent online on hobbies and special interest sites—which is just a little more than the time spent on business-related and educational content (19 percent). Online shopping and game-related activities both accounted for 17 percent of digital natives’ time online.

Source: a Vason Bourne research commissioned by Microsoft

The majority of digital natives spend between two and four hours per day on the Internet. However, a quarter of them are online between four and six hours per day. They are experts in navigating and filtering the flood of information they receive. To do so, they have become adept at multitasking and require 24-hour access to the virtual world.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents said they agreed that new technologies are addictive. The vast majority (83 percent) carry a mobile phone with them at all times. Additionally, 61 percent said they felt cut off from friends and missed out on a large part of life when they were disconnected, while more than half of respondents (55 percent) said they could not keep up with life without technologies.

Additional findings revealed that 77 percent of respondents considered advanced technologies in their workplace to be important or extremely important, while just 53 percent indicated they were satisfied with the technologies in their workplace.

The digital natives study revealed a fusion of the business and social spheres, blurring the boundaries between life and work. Digital natives also stated that whenever they use their mobile phone for leisure, they inevitably see incoming business mails.

In the workplace

As digital natives enter the workforce, they are infusing a new culture into companies. According to the research, the majority of digital natives are satisfied in the workplace; however, there are several areas in need of improvement, including technology, to better accommodate them:

  • Bring your own technology (BYOT): Digital natives are comfortable bringing their personal equipment to the office, such as laptops, iPads and smartphones; where possible, move away from corporate IT solutions to consumer-friendly ones.
  • Always connected: Promote the use of portable and mobile technologies to allow for a high level of mobility and efficiency in the workplace.
  • No loss of transition from home to work: The smooth integration of technologies while in the office, such as Wi-Fi access, booking systems, virtual private network (VPN) and 3G video conferencing, will allow workers to easily transition work from office to home.
  • Social networking friendly solutions: Allows workers to build and maintain a social network while at work to share knowledge and foster communities.
  • Collaborative solutions: Provides solutions that allow workers to collaborate with one another wherever they are, at any time.
  • Cloud computing: Allows easier up-dating and distribution of informa—-tion among workers.
  • Internal knowledge management: Sup-ports effective and efficient collaboration.
  • More comfortable work environment: As the lines between work and private lives blur, digital natives crave this new style of workplace.
  • More sustainable working environment: supports the environmental values of this generation.

Mutual mentoring

Although digital natives have many of the same needs as previous generations, they are different in how they communicate and integrate technology into their daily lives and how they approach work. This generation is more experienced at incorporating technology into their lives. Encouraging them to share their knowledge of technology with older workers could result in significant productivity gains.

Digital natives’ heightened intuition with technology, coupled with the fact that new products are easier to use than their predecessors, means integration will be less of an issue for all generations. If a technology gap currently exists, it will lessen if all employees strive to understand new technologies.

Encouraging workers from all generations to embrace today’s modern technologies also can lead to lower travel costs, as employees explore the use of videoconferencing platforms. Teleconferencing, telecommuting and hoteling are becoming more prevalent as more companies institute these practices.

Back to the workplace

The right workspace with access to technology, collaborative spaces, comfort and flexibility creates a company culture that attracts Generation Y workers. A work environment that enables creativity and flexibility is a priority for digital natives and crucial to a company’s ability to attract and retain a new generation of workers. The best workplace naturally engages employees and stimulates interaction among team members—fostering innovation.

Starting now, businesses are challenged to create a balanced work environment that attracts digital natives without excluding other generations. Businesses that do not invest in updating their office space to a modern work environment might have a hard time attracting the next generation of talent.

via Facilities Management Electronic Communications Feature: Adapting the Workplace for the Next Generation How the working habits of Generation Y graduates have impacted the workplace.
click this link for the study by Vanson Bourne commissioned by Microsoft

See also Millenials at work: Your life is in a hurry
And The unexpected side-effect of the 2012 Olympics: flexible working

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