As even the most traditional workplaces are modernizing their technology systems and creating technology-based strategies, the lines between younger and older generations are clear. Millennials were the first wave of technologists, but many people from Gen Z are also entering the workforce. Their native understanding of technology widens the gap among a workforce even more. How then do organizations harness the intuitive understanding of younger generations and the strong-work ethic and resourceful old generations to make a technology-based strategy the most effective?
First, it’s important for organizations to acknowledge that not only is the mode of communication different, but the attitudes and styles about communication are different between generations. Tools like Slack, Monday, and Workplace have changed the way employees communicate internally, including the type of content that is shared among colleagues. Setting clear boundaries about what type of discussion is allowed on particular channels can help align inter-generational employees with different expectations of what is appropriate.
Younger generations are used to a more casual style of communication, even with their superiors. Rather than allowing tension to build between levels of employees, intentionally creating a culture that encourages mentorship. Baby boomers have decades of experience that is still highly applicable to today’s workplace. Encourage your office to be more collaborative in their knowledge sharing. For as much as Millennials and Gen Z has to teach Gen X and Boomers about new technology, they also want to be guided in their professional development.
Planning & Hosting Meetings
Tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and UberConference have changed the way people attend meetings and interact remotely. Ensuring that all of your employees have the proper training to make use of the tools will reduce wasted time in meetings, and make sure everyone has the ability to share their work effectively. Simple resources online can help those who need the assistance receive it and spare up free time for others. Planning meetings also used to require formal emails and phone calls, but many people now just request time on their colleague’s calendars like with Google Cal, TimeTree, and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.
Many organizations allow employees to self-manage these types of interactions but limiting unnecessary meetings and implementing boundaries between managers and juniors may be important for your workplace. Having managers set designated hours each week for employees to set up time for a check-in or setting up recurring meetings for ongoing projects can ensure that everyone feels heard and is receiving the face to face time they need, while still creating limits on free-for-all calendars.
Team management software bypass traditional files, timelines, and meetings that facilitate work on teams, and offer more than just a place for conversation and collaboration. They provide organized online libraries for company resources from marketing plans to HR materials to project outlines and documents. Confluence allows you to create internal pages that are easy to navigate like various web pages, and templates provide guidance to those who don’t have a high familiarity with these types of programs. Jira focuses on project tracking, identifying issues and streamlining the process for addressing snags in teamwork. Both Jira and Confluence are a part of the Atlassian parent software company and can easily integrate. Intentional conversations and guidelines for how traditional project management and team collaboration are translated into online programs can be helpful for identifying pathways for employees of all ages. Flexibility is built-in and identifying areas that more easily transfer into team management software will help transition your team smoothly. These programs aren’t static and can be always adjusted when project progress or team efficiency slows.
Replacing the All-in-1 Printer
The need for a scanner, a copier, or even a printer has all but faded for most people in the workspace. (Let’s not even mention a fax machine!). In many startups, a printer is an afterthought in a new workplace and recommendations on the best free scanning are shared over lunch. Free apps now allow for easy and quality scanning and virtual collaboration and file storage has reduced the need for printing, filing, and storing papers. Why is this worth mentioning? A printer doesn’t seem like state-of-the-art technology, but in an office space where these aren’t readily available, a boomer might not think to check if there’s an app for the task.
Onboarding documents can be very helpful in orienting everyone on the team as to what technologies are used, including apps, and directories for how to find the resources everyone needs to do their job effectively. With technology dominating the workplace, it’s important to remember that not all employees are bringing the same skills or life experiences. But that’s what makes diverse teams so exciting and refreshing to work on! Simple tweaks to onboarding, employee resources, and employee culture can make create an office in which everyone feels prepared and empowered to do their job while keeping an open mind to always learning from their inter-generational colleagues.