Multitasking, wearables could be in your workplace’s future

We’ve heard it before – young people are the future of work. Coming into workplaces with their high comfort level with tech and mobile devices, and armed with their demands to work whenever, wherever, it’s pretty clear there’s a big generational shift there.

And now, thanks to a new, fairly exhaustive report from Cisco, we have numbers showing just how much work may change in the future, thanks to the influx of these new young professionals.

Among the top findings? Wearables may become more important than smartphones, companies are becoming more flexible about hours clocked, and multitaskers will be the future super-unicorns of the workplace.

Released today, the Cisco Connected World Technology Report polled about 3,700 people from around the world, splitting their respondents into three groups – about 1,400 Generation Y professionals aged 18 to 30, as well as 1,500 Generation X professionals between 31 and 50. Researchers for the report also ran an online survey with about 800 people working in human resources departments.

Respondents for the report were full-time employees in business-related jobs who regularly use their desktop or laptop for work, as well as a smartphone at work or in their personal lives. However, they were not involved in IT, research and development, or engineering. Cisco researchers also avoided getting respondents from sectors like education, market research, tech consulting, or non-profit, and they aimed for people in middle management at companies of 100 people or more.

Those polled hailed from 15 different countries, including Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

One of the biggest shifts in work today is the demand for the perfect multitasker, someone who’s able to do more than two tasks at once, with a high level of performance, according to the survey. Defined as “supertaskers” in the report, 50 per cent of Gen Y-ers and 40 per cent of Gen X-ers said they’d fit into that category.

For those individuals, that sounds like a good thing – 62 per cent of human resources
employees said they believe supertaskers are the ones that buoy up their companies’ productivity, and two-thirds of them said they feel these will one day be the most desirable employees by 2020.

Among other findings, one of the most surprising was centred around wearables. While the biggest number of respondents still believed that in 2020, their most valuable connected device would be their smartphone, more Gen X professionals believed wearables would actually supersede smartphones. Respondents in Brazil were also unique in feeling that they’d rather use wearable devices for work, instead of their desktops.

Nor does the use of tech come into play only when a Gen Y-er starts his or her job. Even a job interview can be done via video conferencing, with about 58 per cent of human resources professionals said they’d be fine with hiring someone right after.

Alongside their comfort with wearables, Gen Y showed its influence in demanding more flexible hours. More than half of both Gen Y and Gen X employees said they’re available and can be reached 24/7. About 30 per cent said they can be always reached by both email and phone.

However, one interesting finding was that contrary to popular myth, Gen-Yers actually do like working from their offices. About 40 per cent of respondents said they’re actually most productive when they’re physically in the office. And compared to their Gen X counterparts, Gen-Yers who are given the choice to work from home actually preferred to come to the workplace.

What’s most interesting about this study is how it highlights how tech is playing such a big part in non-tech related jobs today. As the Cisco researchers concluded, workplaces looking for people who can juggle more tasks – and that’s one area where tech can help.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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