Will Gen-Z lead the way in the workplace of tomorrow?By Ryan Noik 9 November 2018 | Categories: feature articles
What does the future of work look like? Where are we heading with technology, and as a society? These are questions that comes up even increasingly frequently these days, and for good reason. When the world appears to be in a time of turmoil, and established democracies and systems appear to be falling apart, looking towards the future can enable one to keep a measure of hope, and sanity alive.
So where are we heading? Just one of the many ways to predict the future and ascertain its health, is to look at the current young generation. According to a recent survey by Dell Technologies, Generation Z - those born after 1996 – are not the stupefied, heads-in-their-phones robots one may assume.
Rather, these children to young adults are tech-savvy for sure, but also crave more human interaction, while being concerned about developing soft skills. As for communication, here is the statistic that really surprises - in-person communication (43%) is the preferred method for communicating with coworkers, followed by phone (21%); and messaging apps. Texting, arguably one of the banes of modern life, especially when it done while driving, ranked stone cold last.
The survey, incidentally, concentrated on the workplace environment, rather than a broad sweep of interaction. Nonetheless, as we have witnessed over the past decade, the boundaries between work-life and homelife have certainly blurred.
Other boundaries that we can expect to see blurred are those between human workers and robots. In the survey, a vast majority (89%) recognized that we are entering the age of human-machine partnerships, while 51% of those surveyed believe that humans and machines will work as integrated teams.
To quote Danny Cobb, corporate fellow and vice president of Technology Strategy, Dell Technologies: “It’s almost a given that these digital natives have advanced technology and data science skills, but what is surprising is the level of digital maturity they are bringing to the workplace.”
Furthermore, he pointed out that Gen Z sees technology not only as a tool for enabling human progress, but also as a means for leveling the information empowerment playing field, calling their combination of vision and optimism “remarkable.”
There is another statistic to emerge from the report that was a surprise, particularly for those of us who have been, and still are, proclaiming the benefits of remote working on the environment and productivity. Apparently, Gen Z don’t want to work alone. The survey found that more than half (53%) prefer to go to a workplace versus working from home and 58% prefer to work as part of team rather than independently.
It’s not necessarily that surprising. One of the dark faces of technology is that it has been used to separate people into their little bubbles and their very own echo chambers. As time progresses, AI and machine-humans working side by side come more to the fore, we can expect Gen-Z to lead the way. And that perhaps may just show us how the technological and interpersonal can, in fact be balanced. For the time being, if the survey is on the mark, then the future looks a whole lot more collaborative, and inter-personal, than we might have expected.
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