As Generation Z (born 1995-2009) are emerging as the newest cohort of workers, how is work being redefined? From constant connectivity, to flexi-working and 24/7 access, here are some trends redefining the workplace.
The ‘smartphone’ is more of a technological epicentre, than a phone for making phone calls.
Single technological devices now have access to a wide array of high quality technologies, functions and applications that have been converged into one device. Technological innovations have disrupted the global consumer market and have significantly redefined workplace lifestyles as we had recognised it previously.
Many individual technologies and functions have been converged into one device. The traditional alarm clock beside your bed has most often been replaced with an alarm clock app on your smart phone. The notifications and alerts of a meeting you have scheduled have replaced the need to carry around a physical diary/ planner. Music streamed from your iTunes, You Tube or Spotify have replaced the need for a separate Walkman or iPod. As such, many habitual lifestyle patterns have been disrupted with the technological convergence of the smart phone. For example, the time previously spent resting your mind on the commute to work has been replaced by ‘on demand’ TV shows, YouTube videos, social media, emails, texting, music, news, and podcasts all accessible on the one device.
The flexibility of where, when and how we work is remarkable. Workplace barriers that once required you to be physically present to access work emails and system databases, complete tasks and communicate internally to employees are no longer barriers in today’s society.
Digital disruption has reshaped the typical 9am to 5pm workday structure, significantly blurring the lines between personal and professional lives. Work place mindsets have become increasingly influenced by our ‘on-demand’ culture, where being constantly contactable has created expectations that we can be accessed 24/7, driving assumptions of an immediate response. This can create a sense of endless workdays, with no clear boundaries around the work place, as professional tasks overlaps into the boundaries of personal/ family time; and visa versa. Entering the workplace is no longer a physical commute that transitions you into the work place environment and a focused mindset, it has become as effortless as clicking an app to enter into work realm of emails, data bases and scheduled appointments, from you moment you rise each morning. Sophie b.2000 from Generation Z describes the ease of transition on smart phones this way;
“When you wake up in the morning first you turn off your phone alarm. Then you turn your alarm off and you think, “I’m already on my phone,” so you check Instagram and you check Snapchat.” Sophie, b.2000
The clearly defined professional workplace boundary where you “clock on/clock off”, as defined by physical environments, has become increasingly blurry. Even when intending to use the device for a specific purpose (i.e. workplace tasks), the convenience, convergence and accessibility of social networks, entertainment options, apps and texting can quickly lead to ‘multitasking’ (or just being distracted!). With a flow of constant interruptions and notifications from many personal platforms accumulating onto one device, these distractions continually evade your attention from the tasks at hand. Interruptions get interrupted, with a flash of a push notification, a ‘bing’ of a text message or an alert of a Messenger alert, and it can be nearly impossible to ignore and maintain a succinct train of thought. This can lead to workers experiencing a ‘focusing problem’, having difficulty giving sustained focus to one activity or task for an extended period of time.
“Globalisation has removed barriers and in our increasingly global neighbourhood our connections, community, customers, clients and even co-workers are no longer defined by the limits of geographic proximity.” Claire Madden
Today’s workplace that Gen Zs will enter into is unique, as technological innovations have made a global office a reality, where your physical location need not limit your employment or connection between co-workers or clients, as tasks can be accessed, completed and effectively communicated remotely, anytime, anywhere.
Technological convergence has blurred the boundary lines of work, rest and play, creating an ever evolving and increasingly global workplace that is altering the lifestyle expectations in our society. Flexi-working has opened up new realities and opportunities for people to re-engage with work which was previously not possible. What has developed alongside this is a shifting expectation that workplaces ought facilitate my job around what I can do, when I can do it. The worker has become empowered in a new way, and is used to personalised job roles to suit their other life priorities. Flexi-working is certainly advantageous in many ways, but perhaps has shaped an expectation that we can now work on our terms, that is, IWWIWWIWI (I want what I want when I want it!). This newly shaped workplace has created a boundary-less world where we have more regular connection but less rigid routines; a world where there is more communication but less consistency; more personalised but less prescribed lifestyles.
For Generation Zs as they transition into this evolving workplace, it will require further training, adaptability and professional development in order for them to properly transition into the workforce to make an impact. Building multigenerational teams within organisations is key to building on the strengths of each generation and supporting their areas of growth. In this environment, the demand for organisations to remain relevant in a context of shifting sands has brought innovation to the fore, which is redefining the workplace as we know it.
Extracts taken from HELLO GEN Z: ENGAGING THE GENERATION OF POST MILLENNIALS
Hello Gen Z is the new book from Claire Madden, Australia’s foremost social researcher on generational engagement.
With a foreword by Bernard Salt, this book will help organisations, educators, leaders and parents understand what has shaped this extraordinary group of young people. Order a copy of the book here. Bulk order discounts are also available.
About Claire Madden
Claire Madden (www.clairemadden.com) is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change. As a keynote speaker, Claire is highly regarded for her dynamic and engaging presentations where she translates robust, research-based content into strategic applications for educators, managers and business leaders.
To invite Claire to speak at your next event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 2 8091 4321.