10 November 2014

Cisco discovers how technology is shaping the way we work

Workforce demands by Generation (Gen) X and Millennial workers to increase flexible work styles have been met with employers shifting their own policies to accommodate changing attitudes, according to the 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report* (CCWTR). Generation X, typically describes those born in the 1960s to 1980s, and Millennial workers or Generation Y are those born in the 1980s to the 2000s.

As in previous years, the CCWTR shows the mindset, expectations, and behaviour of the world's next generation of workers, but this year has added insights into Gen X and human resources workers, and how they value their connectivity (over physical needs), view their availability for work communications (24/7) and the consequent shaping of enterprise IT and security policy, product development and design, and the ability of businesses to compete.

The report, which includes inputs from India, China, Japan, Korea and Australia, demonstrates the fundamental ways in which technology is shaping the future of work and how the devices, apps and solutions preferred by these generations are enabling new ways of working – including the rise of the "Supertasker" who uses four devices – and changes in the way workers and businesses view remote working (44% of Millennials feel most productive in the office), application use (six in 10 respondents prefer a pen and paper to the hottest note-taking app) and global talent recruitment (50% of hiring managers would hire from only video interviews).

Key findings:

Nearly two thirds believe in the year 2020, Supertasking will be most coveted by their organisation. 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.

HR professionals feel that Supertaskers increase the expectations of a "high performer" at their organisation and as such, most feel Supertaskers are best suited for a managerial role, an individual contributor or an executive role.

About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe Supertasking would make an individual more productive. Similarly, HR professionals (62%) predominantly believe Supertaskers increase their organisation's productivity.

Most indicate learning to become a Supertasker by managing their personal lives, and the majority typically mix work and personal activities, particularly Gen X professionals (70%).

Gen X versus Gen Y
Gen Y (Millennial) professionals are more likely to indicate being "wired" differently than Gen X employees when it comes to efficiency and multitasking. More than half (56%) of Gen Y professionals say that they are more efficient than Gen X employees.

More than four in 10 professionals believe Gen Y employees are most effective at Supertasking, relative to other generations. Six in ten Gen X professionals and 81% of HR professionals think that Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster than older employees using mobile devices and apps. Further, seven in 10 HR professionals think Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster if they are allowed to use their mobile devices and apps instead of desktop PCs or laptops.

Managing Gen X and Gen Y employees
Nearly two thirds of Gen X and more than eight in 10 HR professionals have previously managed or currently manage Gen X and Gen Y employees. Among those who have managed both Gen X and Gen Y employees, the largest proportion notes that Gen X professionals are easier to manage than their younger counterparts. On the other hand, roughly one third indicate both groups are easy to manage.

More than one third of Gen X and HR professionals who have experienced managing Gen Y employees cited the greatest challenge is their "I want it now" ambition. Gen X and HR professionals agree managers in the future will need to change their approach to coaching/mentoring and collaborating with Gen Y employees as a result of more of them joining the workforce.

The future of HR and recruiting
Nearly six in 10 (58%) HR professionals would be willing to hire a candidate by only interviewing the candidate using video conferencing (without ever conducting an interview in person). When asked of hiring managers in general, slightly less (50%) believe hiring managers would be open to hiring someone without an in-person interview.

When it comes to hiring based on their organisation's culture, HR professionals are equally divided on whether having the best talent or finding the best fit for their culture is most important. Most HR professionals (40%) believe personal skills are most important to hiring managers when looking to fill entry-level positions.

While one third of professionals indicate their job hunting approach will always remain local, nearly one in 5 indicate their approach is already national or worldwide, including those from India.

The always-on lifestyle
More than half of professionals (Gen X and Gen Y) consider themselves accessible for work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including three in 10 who are accessible by both email and phone.

Which leads to the abolition of the 9-to-5 workday. It is more like a 7-to-8, with 9am to 12am being next-most popular. These are followed in popularity with the 2am-to-5pm and 9am-to-10pm workdays. Professionals are somewhat evenly divided when it comes to the typical white-collar workday, with slightly less than half indicating that they desire the freedom to work and play from anywhere at anytime with no restrictions (vs. having a traditional, scheduled workday of 9am to 5pm).

Most Gen X professionals believe Gen Y employees would prefer a flexible work schedule, although Gen Y professionals actually tend to slightly prefer a traditional work schedule, at 54%.

The largest proportion of Gen Y professionals (44%) indicate being more focused and productive when working in the office, while Gen X professionals (38%) cite being equally focused and productive both at home and in the office. Though somewhat evenly split, slightly more professionals believe there should be a traditional time for work and time for personal life – especially those in China, Korea, Russia and Mexico.

Flexible working schedules
About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals feel their organisation's Human Resources department is adjusting to enable a more mobile, flexible work style for its employees, though nearly one third feel it is not doing so quickly enough.
From an HR perspective, 56% indicate their HR department has already implemented or is planning on implementing a more mobile, flexible work style.

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. HR professionals are split when it comes to the future work schedule, though 4 in 10 believe employees will be able to work from home occasionally.

About one quarter of Gen X and Gen Y professionals indicate their organisation allows them to work from home, but Gen Y professionals who have the opportunity to work remotely are more likely to prefer working from the office, relative to their Gen X counterparts. Despite this the minority of Gen X and Y professionals say they prefer the office - 28% of Gen Y, 19% percent of Gen X and 6% of HR professionals prefer to work in the office.

Among those who are employed by organisations that allow them to work from home, more than four in 10 Gen Y professionals indicate they are most focused and productive when working in the office.

Driven by those in Germany and France, more than one quarter believe organisations will be more nationally and/or globally distributed by the year 2020, where managers will not need to be in the same office as their direct reports every weekday.

Roughly two thirds of professionals believe that an organisation 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 9am to 5pm every weekday.

While salary is the most important factor for most, the flexibility to set their own schedule or the ability to work remotely is most important to roughly one in five Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as one third of HR professionals. Overall, professionals are unwilling to take a pay cut in return for greater work flexibility, although, those in HR tend to be most willing, with four in 10 indicating they would accept a pay cut. Similarly, HR professionals are willing to accept the largest pay cut, with 56% accepting a pay cut of more than 10% (versus 35% of Gen Y and 34% of Gen X professionals).

Said Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President of Cisco Collaboration: "These days people in the office are looking for instant access to great communication and collaboration tools. And we expect these tools to be always on, global and available on any device, anywhere. The findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide businesses with insights that will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to IT decisions and HR processes. 

"In fact, it suggests new approaches to consider deploying technology tools and solutions for the workplace. Users will continue to drive adoption, while demanding a terrific experience with the products they use. We are focused on delivering that excellent experience as we bring them the tools to be more productive and work better, regardless of from where or at what time of day."

Added Lance Perry, Vice President of IT Customer Strategy and Success, Cisco: "The results of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide valuable insights into the care-abouts of our evolving workforce. Businesses should grab this opportunity to re-examine how they need to evolve in order to attract top talent and shape their business models. 

"Without a doubt, our world is changing to be much more Internet-focused and becomes even more so with each new generation. CIOs can plan and scale their networks now to address the security and mobility demands that the next-generation workforce will put on their infrastructure. At the same time, they can use this information to assess and evolve their corporate policies for a win-win transformation that will position technology as an enabler of collaboration and business success."

*The annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report examines the relationship between human behaviour, the Internet and networking's pervasiveness. Examining this relationship unearths data about how companies will remain competitive amid the influence of technology lifestyle trends. The fourth annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, an independent market research firm based in the US. The global report, based on surveys of professionals between the ages of 18 and 50 in 15 countries, includes 100 respondents from each of 15 countries: the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia.