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Mobile Millennials Want Consumer Tech at Work, and They Want It Now

Tech & Gadgets

How many times a day do you check your phone for alerts? How about just for work purposes? When do you do it — just during office time, or when you’re out inhaling beers, too? If you happen to be the average Millennial, the answer is upwards of 34 times. Usually just for 30 seconds, and typically every ten minutes or so, regardless of location or time of day. That may not seem like much, but the swiftly growing trend of work-life integration has digitally-engrossed Gen Y-ers demanding that companies embrace their need for consumer tech — or they’re out.

Your Money’s No Good Here

If Millennials want consumer tech for work, what’s the big deal? Mainly, it’s that the whole BYOD imperative is scaring the crap out of a lot of IT people, not to mention companies that want to constrict the margins of what employees access through technology. Part of that concern is valid — sensitive information and networks are potentially at risk without proper device security — but mostly, it’s the shift of power from desktop to mobile and the rein-loosening it requires. Even if that mobility is still happening in the office.

Offering up trades and substitutes — like outdated devices (Blackberries, you guys) or even more money — doesn’t help, either. In 2012, Cisco conducted a survey of more than 2,800 Millennials and learned that 45 percent of young professionals would take lower-paying jobs if they provided more mobility, a choice about work devices, and access to social media. In fact, the importance of devices and the information they carry is so much more important than money that half of the respondents said they’d rather lose their wallet than their smartphone.

Gen Y is Not Always Alone

Boomers and beyond might sometimes feel that their jobs are being threatened by policies and rollouts that appear to favor younger workers. But not all of them. Says tech journalist Tom Kaneshige, “People who are the most creative and open-minded are going to adopt the coolest technology, regardless of how old they are.” So maybe implementing tech trends isn’t about age, per se, but environment and attitude. Here at Mindjet, plenty a non-Millennial can be seen wandering around glued to an iPad or smartphone. Hell, Steve Jobs was already middle-aged when he directed Apple’s engineers to develop touch-screen mobile phones, and now the world would all but stop turning without them.

Although it’s true that use of new gadgets tapers off as people age, progressive technology is not just wasted on the young — like it or not, change is decisively tied to growth. Despite the unfortunate side effects of resistance and resentment that some older workers face, Kaneshige points out that catering to Gen Y wants is in the best interest of company expansion. “Millennials will either drive your IT policy or your attrition rate,” he says. And that’s a fact — it’s clear from the increasing employee recruiting and retention rates of willing companies.

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I. Am. Job?

Millennials don’t consider themselves separate from their work. Their identities are so totally defined by what they do, and they’re so driven to make a living doing something they’re good at, that they hold a lot of preference-influenced expectations about the organizations they choose to work for. The key word is choose. Millennials believe that choice and constant access are vital to their ability to perform well, and they’ll give up a lot of other perks (e.g., 401ks, stock options) before they give up Facebook.

While younger generations may be spearheading this attitude, embracing the use of merchandised devices is changing the nature of how everyone works. From the widespread defense of telecommuting to video conferencing, in-office chat and enterprise social networking, consumer technologies are quickly becoming integral to the structure of collaboration and success. Don’t get left out.

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