Open Office

How Generational Workplace Differences Impact IT Support

The workforce today is a varied one. Many different individuals from across multiple generations make up the employees you work with as an IT pro each day. Of course, that introduces generational workplace differences that are important to understand. Each generational worker is going to approach technology in very different ways. Understanding that will make your task of providing tech support much easier.

As tech continues to be an integral part of the way business is done, the workforce adapts and learns new skills to keep up with the shifts. This is particularly important as the broad range of employees in today’s companies each approach technology in different ways. Some have grown up with a device at their side while others have come to tech later in life. These generational workplace differences can have a significant impact on how your company approaches IT support for such a varied set of employees.

As a refresher, let’s take a look at this chart that explains the generations that are in today’s workforce. Courtesy of CareerPlanner.com.

Generation Name

Births
Start

Births
End

Youngest Age
Today

Oldest Age
Today

Baby Boomer

1946

1964

54

72

Gen X

1965

1979

39

53

Xennials

1975

1985

33

43

Millennials

1980

1994

24

38

iGen/Gen Z

1995

2012

6

23

Note: As pointed out by CareerPlanner.com, the dates above are approximate and there are some overlaps between generations because there are not set definitions when these generations begin and end.

Understanding the difference between these generations and their adoption of technology can help IT pros adjust their approach to these generational workplace differences.

I recently had a chance to talk with Lenovo’s David Rabin, VP of Commercial Marketing for the company’s PC and Smart Devices, about this very subject. He says that the generational workers in companies today do not have a lot in common when it comes to tech expectations and the role it plays in their daily work and personal lives.

“The thing that you realize when you start thinking about members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations is that they basically grew up with a device tethered to their hand,” Rabin said. “Older generations didn’t have that luxury and were likely in an environment where there was just one computer and when these folks entered the working world, they had zero expectations of technology.”

Another example Rabin provided was email. Older generational workers who have used email throughout their careers are going to default to that as their primary means of communications. On the other hand, younger generational workers are more likely to chat using messaging services instead. Many do not even use email on a personal level, so adopting that in a work environment may be a challenge to help overcome these generational workplace differences.

New collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack provide a mix of email, chat and cloud-based sharing to accommodate these differences.

All of this means in today’s environment that the younger generation, who have grown up around technology and have a pretty good set of devices at home, are going to enter the workforce with high expectations for the hardware and services they will use on the job.

Rabin called this thought process technology entitlements. In a workforce that is growing younger every day, it is important for IT pros to understand these expectations and work within their companies to adjust the tech load out for employees to at least meet or exceed them. If you are onboarding a new Millennial or Gen Z employee and you hand them five to seven-year-old hardware, they are just going to use what they have at home whether you necessarily want them to or not.

They are smart enough to find the workarounds to create their own BYOD program just for their own gear.

Of course, there is going to be some overlap between the generations. You might find some Millennials and Gen Z’s that do not use tech like their generational peers, and there will be some Baby Boomers and Generation X folks that are fully immersed in technology.

One way or another, you as the employer must be flexible and adjust your approach to technology so that you maximize the productivity of your employees. Asking the right questions during the hiring process will help you customize how you will handle tech for that individual.

One size does not fit all but you will find some commonalities across generations when it comes to tech. As Rabin told me, “Everybody is motivated when they are newly employed. They want technology to help them be more productive, more efficient and more collaborative.” Bridging the generational workplace differences to ensure success for your company is critical aspects of maximizing tech’s use in your organization.

The physical office environment, which may or may not be under the control of the IT department, also plays a role in the productivity of the workforce. Today more companies use open floor plans to increase collaboration among employees. However, anyone who has grown accustomed to either cubicles or even private offices could struggle with this environmental change.

Ensuring that there are private spaces for focused work will go a long way to avoiding a complete disruption of the work flow in an open office environment.

Rabin said Lenovo has been working on tools that build on the concept of a smart office, using technology to increase collaboration and productivity.

“There is a mindset among a lot of younger Gen X and Millennials that they do not want to be tethered to an office,” he said.  

That means providing tools that support mobile and remote workers. When researching technology service to adopt on a company level, make sure there are mobile apps for the big platforms such as iOS and Android so that access to the service is not location dependent. Introducing systems into workspaces that allow collaboration of all team members, no matter their location, should be quick and easy.

Lenovo is facilitating this type of productivity with its line of ThinkSmart Hubs. These meeting room/huddle space devices are designed to be easy to connect to for voice, screen sharing and work collaboration. For IT pros, these devices have remote setup, configuration, monitoring and reporting capabilities to integrate into your own environment.

These digital-first workplaces will deliver efficiency, collaboration and productivity to companies in the long run but getting there with the right technology approach will make a big difference.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish