Cisco Looks at the Future of Work

Cover Story

Cisco Looks at the Future of Work

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor  |  December 04, 2014

A new Cisco (News - Alert) report, based on a a survey of more than 2,000 people across 15 countries, looks at the future of work, especially Gen X and Y white-collar employees. And it reveals that these individuals are even more connected to their devices than you might think.

Getting Personal

Not surprisingly, the 2014 data shows that Gen Y is still very connected to their technology, with 76 percent choosing a smartphone over TV; 54 percent looking at their smartphones first before anything else in the morning; 45 percent will to give carrier access to all personal information for a free smartphone with free data; and 22 percent of Gen Y and 17 percent of Gen X professionals being most concerned about losing their smartphone during a robbery.

More than a fourth of Gen Y and 21 percent of Gen X professionals, meanwhile, said they were open to surgery if a brain implant made the worldwide web instantly accessible. And 48 percent are apparently ready to sacrifice sex for one month rather than sacrifice their smartphones.

Work It

Cisco sees these Gen Y values carrying over into the workplace.

The majority of Gen X and Gen Y professionals use two to three devices per day. More than half of both Gen X and Gen Y workers prefer smartphones to desk phones. Forty percent of Gen Y and 34 percent of Gen X workers believe that by 2020 the smartphone will be the most important device.

Seven in 10 HR professionals think Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster if they are allowed to use their mobile devices and apps instead of desktop, laptop or notebook PCs. But 40 percent of respondents would still choose a laptop over another device for work. The smartphone is overwhelmingly the second-rated choice (34 percent Gen Y; 27 percent Gen X).

About half of those surveyed have 20 or more personal applications, while the vast majority (92 percent) indicate having less than 20 work-related apps. Further, nearly seven in 10 use less than 10 apps (for their work and personal lives) regularly each day.

The number of Gen X workers with 60 to 99 apps on their smartphones is more than double the number of Gen Y workers who have downloaded that many apps.

Resetting Expectations

Access to multiple smart devices has enabled people to work anytime, anywhere, and to be available 24/7.

About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe such supertasking makes an individual more productive. Similarly, HR professionals (62 percent) predominantly believe supertaskers increase their organization’s productivity and increase the expectations of what it means to be a high performer.

More than half of professionals consider themselves accessible for work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including three in 10 who are accessible by both email and phone.

While salaries are the most important factor for most in their decision to accept a position, the flexibility to set their own schedules or the ability to work remotely is most important to roughly one in 5 Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as one third of HR professionals.

Key Takeaway

The digitally adept who will be populating the workplace understand that connectivity and the rapid introduction of innovation will be constants in their lives. As a result, the workplace will become more dispersed/virtual and the nature of work will change and employer expectations about availability will continue to make work/life balancing a challenge.

The flip side of the last point is that a fickle workforce in terms of loyalty will expect employer flexibility as to who, what, where, why, how and when work will be done.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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