It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there is a divide among how different generations use technology at work and at home. LexisNexis recently conducted a study that solidified that assumption. The study focused on 3 groups – the Boomers (ages 44-60), GenX (ages 29-43) and Gen Y or Millennials (28 and under). It’s easy to stereotype — after looking at the study — that the Boomers are painted as minimalists in technology usage, while the Gen Ys are practically computerized autom-a-tons but let’s instead throw out some of those valuable numbers:
- Over 66% of Boomers believe Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and cell phones have caused a decline in workplace etiquette, and think using a laptop during a face-to-face meeting is “distracting;” less than 50% of Gen Y workers agree.
- Gen Y workers average 10.6 hours a day on social networking sites, news Web sites, blogs, forums, and multimedia sharing Web sites, versus 5.6 hours reported by Boomers.
- 62% of Gen Y use social networking site(s) from work, while only 14% of Boomers do.
- 39% of Gen Y workers report gaming at work, versus 14% of Boomers (bet you’d notice a difference in games too but we’ll leave that for another study).
- How about multi-tasking? Here we see the biggest gap in the generations, with Gen Y logging a cumulative total of 22.9 hours across e-mail; Internet browsers, instant messaging, and Microsoft Office in a work day, versus 10.3 for Boomers. (to that I say, sure you have to be a multitasker if you’re gaming at work. Gotta have a second screen up so you can flip to something when the boss comes in.)
Managing multigenerations is a challenge and Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis U.S. Legal Markets, suggests a multi-faceted strategy to make the most of the generational divides. He suggests:
- Investing in technology and workflow solutions that increase workplace productivity instead of increasing multi-tasking;
- Establishing office guidelines around company-accepted uses of technology, along with providing training on new technologies; and
- Embracing the significant impact of social networking by investing in professional networking solutions.
Moral of the story: There are mature people and immature people in the workforce. The mature ones think the immature ones are rude and too attached to their gizmos. The immature ones play a lot of games but also log a lot of computer time. Professional networking software is the answer to conquering the generation gap and possibly attaining world peace. (At least that’s what I got out of it.)