You’ve undoubtedly heard that Generation Z (16-24 years old) are leading us into the digital age, flinging smartphones and tablets left, right and center. But is that view really true when it comes down to business?
No, is the simple answer, according to research from Computacenter, which reckons that more than half of this age group don’t actually want an iPhone or tablet in the office.
They would, apparently, rather focus on their work, with a pretty significant 45% arguing that company control is more important than the need for employee to have more freedom with their own device, although Computacenter’s research – released last week – did indicate that 23% of Generation Z respondents forgot all security policies when using their mobile device when at work.
For all the hoopla, it genuinely doesn’t look like Gen Z types are leading a digital assemble in the workspace, at least for the time being, and that's probably down to a couple of reasons.
As a starting point, how many 16-24 years old are there actually in your office? In the UK alone, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds alone hit 22.2% at the last check, encompassing over one million people, while the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that levels among the same age-group rose by 1.7 million to 18.6 million last summer. Add into that the likelihood of most 16-24 year olds being in some form of education, and that doesn’t leave a lot of Generation Z workers in the first place.
The second point relates again to their relative youth. Most people in this age bracket probably aren’t as familiar or skilled with their job as someone more senior, and it is possible that this relative unfamiliarity with their workplace could hold Generation Z workers back from asking management if you can bring a tablet in for work. Computacenter's study also found that more senior workers are more likely to have more disposable cash to buy a tablet, and so put simply, 16-24 year old workers would seemingly rather get on with their work, and build a solid reputation, before they start dabbling with iPads and Galaxy Tabs.
It is for this reason that I, a generation Z 'member' until earlier this month, think Generation Z workers are bringing in fewer tablets than their older, more experienced colleagues. Of my friends, for instance, not one has even considered taking their tablet into the workplace; they’re more preoccupied with learning new skills, protecting their job security or, if without a job, enhancing their job prospects.
It could be argued that this assumption that Generation Z is leading the way is a form of stereotype (after all, this generation is demanding improvements in social networking and gaming all the time), but don’t discount the fact that this familiarity with technology may come to fruition in later years.
Those Generation Z workers who now play the part of the rookie probably won't be in the same role in five or ten years’ time, by which stage they’ll be more willing to start tinkering with technology in the workplace. But that time is not now.