The evolving world of work: Armed with high tech tools, what younger workers expect

Next Generation

If you’re reading the plethora of books, articles and studies related to the attraction and retention of the emerging workforce (combined with your own experiences), you’re well aware that workforce demands and preferences have shifted. As well, the world of work is evolving, in large part driven by technology advances.

The annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report (2014) examines the relationship between human behavior, the Internet and networking, demonstrating the ways in which the world of work is being impacted by technology. This global study focused on generation X, generation Y and human resources across a range of industries, across 15 countries.

Lance Perry, vice president of IT customer strategy and success at Cisco, expressed that, “Businesses should grab this opportunity to re-examine how they need to evolve in order to attract top talent and shape their business model.”

In this column, I will share a number of the findings, taken directly from the report. You can read the full 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report at

  • “By 2020, the majority of Generation X and Generation Y professionals believe that smartphones and wearable devices will be the workforce’s most important ‘connected’ device. The laptop will remain the workplace device of choice.”
  • “Devices, apps and solutions preferred by these generations are enabling new ways of working, including the rise of the ‘supertasker’ using four devices.”
  • “44 percent of millennials feel most productive in the office.”
  • “More than four in 10 Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as nearly six in 10 HR professionals, consider themselves to be a ‘supertasker,’ defined as an individual who can successfully do more than two things at once, and do them well.”
  • “Most HR professionals feel supertaskers are best suited for a managerial role, an individual contributor or an executive role.”
  • “Gen Y professionals are more likely to indicate being “wired” differently than Gen X  employees…and 56 percent note they are more productive than Gen X employees.”
  • “Nearly six in 10 HR professionals would be willing to hire a candidate by only interviewing the candidate using video conferencing.”
  • “More than half of professionals (Gen X and Gen Y) consider themselves accessible to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including three in 10 who are accessible by both email and phone.”
  • “Does the 9-to-5 workday exist? The workday is more like 7-8, then 9-12, then 2-5, then 9-10.”
  • “Professionals are somewhat evenly divided when it comes to the typical white collar workday. Slightly less than half prefer the freedom to work and play at any time with no restrictions.”
  • “Roughly two-thirds of professionals believe that an organization that has adopted a flexible mobile and remote work model has a competitive advantage over one that requires employees to be in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
  • “About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals feel their organization’s human resources department is adjusting to make a more mobile, flexible work style for its employees.”
  • “Most professionals believe physical offices will still exist in 2020, though about four in 10 believe they will be much smaller.”
  • “Further, more than half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe their job will sometimes require them to be in the office, depending on their schedule.”
  • “BYOD (bring your own device) is now pervasive: Four in 10 HR professionals indicate all employees within their organization are allowed to connect any device to their network in order to do their jobs.”
  • “BYOD gone mad:  In Australia, more than half use at least 10 devices in their daily lives.”  (10? I don’t even know what those could be!)
  • “The smartphone is important enough that (more than) one-third of professionals would give up electricity in their homes for a week before giving up their smartphone.”
  • And, here is an intriguing one to finish up with: “About one-quarter of Gen X and Gen Y professionals would be willing to move to Mars or another planet if their organization (were) to open a branch.”

We continue to observe business leaders focused on the preservation of longstanding business practices, particularly related to the approach to work. For some individuals, there exists a clear demarcation between what is right (the way it’s been) and what is wrong (the newer preferences). I encourage you to read the full study as part of your continued research into and understanding of the evolving world of work.

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Aleta Norris is a partner and co-founder of Living As A Leader, a national leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. Living As A Leader supports the development of leaders in more than 125 organizations across the country. For several years, Aleta has been researching and speaking about the critical responsibilities organizations and leaders share related to the attraction, retention and engagement of the emerging workforce.

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