The 2020 workplace

A few months ago, John Casper, the president of Milwaukee-based Marsh Electronics Inc., invited me in to talk with his executive team about the variety of issues and dynamics related to a multi-generational workforce, as well as the challenges his team will face moving toward the future.

I appreciated that his entire team was curious and intrigued, not defensive and protective of the traditional workplace paradigms in terms of how we do work. They’re doing exactly what executive teams need to be doing.

Following this session, John forwarded me a reprint of an article titled, “The Rise of Generation C: How to prepare for the Connected Generation’s transformation of the consumer and business landscape.” The authors, Roman Friedrich, Michael Peterson and Alex Koster (principals with Booz & Company – a global consulting firm), have raised a number of interesting issues that may help you continue to grasp the emerging workplace.

Generation C? Where did that come from? Let’s spend a moment to get a handle on the ‘handle!’ I turned to Wikipedia for help, looking up Generation. Wikipedia shares the following definition:

“A generation can refer to stages of successive improvement in the development of a technology such as the internal combustion engine, or successive iterations of products with planned obsolescence, such as video game consoles or mobile phones.

In biology, the process by which populations of organisms pass on advantageous traits from generation to generation is known as evolution.”

If you’ve been reading my columns, you’ll be familiar with my interest in reinforcing to you that the changes in workplace preferences have more to do with evolving technology than with a group of people referred to as Gen Y.

Back to the question of Generation C. This generation follows Generation Y. If you’re still trying to get a handle on the labels for the generations, Wikipedia summarizes as follows:

  • Generation Y is also referred to as Millennials, Generation Next, Net Generation and Echo Boomers.
  • Generation C is also referred to as Generation Z, Generation I, Internet Generation, Generation Text and Generation @.

The following issues, stated in the article aforementioned, may be helpful for you as you continue to get your mind wrapped around the evolving workplace. Think in terms of the 2020 workplace. The Booz & Company authors share:

  • “Generation C have lived their adolescent years after 2000. They are connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community-oriented, always clicking.”
  • “Generation C has close relationships with people, though physical contact is not necessarily frequent.”
  • “Their familiarity with technology; reliance on mobile communications; and desire to remain in contact with large networks of family members, friends and business contacts will transform how we work.”
  • “As 24/7 connectivity, social networking and increased demands for personal freedom further penetrate the walls of the corporation, corporate life will continue to move away from traditional hierarchical structures.” (Are you listening? 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ‘butt in seat’ mindsets won’t work in 2020.)

One of the summarizing comments in the article may get you thinking more deeply about the need to evolve and change: “Few business people have grasped the implications. The arrival of Generation C will have an impact comparable to that of the Industrial Revolution, but it will take place much more quickly.”

Every week, at least one individual reaches out to us to share their frustration over veteran leaders’ unwillingness to acquiesce to the need to change. Are you one of the many baby boomer leaders who still believe the way we have worked up to this point is what should be protected? It’s a dangerous belief.

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