Millennials Don’t Know How to Use Fax Machines (And Other Insights From Future of Work’s Jacob Morgan)

As a Millennial myself, I think I have only ever used a fax machine once (and that was to send something my father). Furthermore, I’m usually completely lost if I have to use technology that isn’t touch screen based (case in point: my laptop has finger prints all over the screen).

But why does that matter? This is the world of business! Offices are places where IT department/manager/HR can come by my cubicle and reinforce the use of outdated systems…like if I know that we’re putting cover sheets on all the TPS reports now… and if I could go ahead and do that that would be greeeaaaaat. (Okay, my experience wasn’t quite as bad as the movie version, but I struggle with the logic behind a cumbersome business travel booking system. I can literally book a cheaper flight right on the airline site instead, but I digress).

Why is it that the systems and tools and technologies we use at work seem so antiquated, so bureaucratic, so inflexible, when the systems I use the rest of the time make my life so easy? Why hasn’t business caught up?

Jacob Morgan, author, Forbes contributor and co-founder of the Future of Work, wrote a great article recently about this very divergence between our work and personal lives — highlighting the risks associated with not addressing this important gap. He also offers some great examples of companies that have successfully closed the gap. Bridging the gap between personal and work for Millennials is important as businesses compete for the top graduates to fill the anticipated talent gap, but I’ve heard Gen X and other colleagues complain about this too so I know it’s not just us.

The disengagement and “double lives” Jacob speaks about really resonates with me as I compare my interaction with technology at home and at work. My devices, use of apps and how I access the cloud — these at-home experiences are more intuitive, flexible and easy to use than the tools most employees have access to in their jobs. Just like your company, the company I work for is navigating between the security and centralization needs of IT and the flexibility required by remote and office-based employees.

As our customers address this work/personal dichotomy,  we’ve heard a few key tips that are working:

– Give users a choice between applications so that IT can drive efficiencies in the business while maintaining control, so users aren’t stuck with an application that makes them want to eat their desk
– Define success metrics for users and for IT (as well as HR and Facilities): a “successful deployment” can mean something different depending on where you sit within the organization
– Know your customer. What work flows are you simplifying for them and do they care? I’m sure the new system is great and will save us lots of money but if it took me 25 minutes to sign up and then it gave me an error message, did we all really succeed?

More and more, we’re finding IT, human resources and facilities managers have to get out of their respective silos and talk about how we work from all three perspectives.

Want to learn more about how to overcome “double lives” where you work in one decade and live in the other? We’re hosting a webinar with Jacob Morgan On December 9th on this very subject and how to fix it. Register now!

Brittany Wickerson
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About Brittany Wickerson

Brittany manages SMART Enterprise Brand activities, from the Global Collaboration Research Study, to the Collaboration Executive Council. She specializes in data driven analysis and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Business Analytics. Brittany joined SMART in 2012, bringing more than five years of marketing and analysis experience in technology. When she’s not monitoring global trends in collaboration Brittany can be found sweating her brains out in a yoga studio, fighting jet lag in Cambodia or studying big data at NYU. Right now it’s mostly just studying.

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