At times, new generations of employees put the established culture of work systems and collaboration to the test. The provision of new, “fancy” IT equipment for efficient working is only the tip of the iceberg: the IT department also faces the challenge of managing the new world together with the old one.
Upside-down world: Generation Y has greater leverage
It isn’t always just digitalization that changes our society and how we work. Sometimes, it’s simply the population pyramid – same as it ever was. Twenty or thirty years ago, the pyramid was still shaped like an onion. Those were the “good old days”, when applicants licked hundreds of stamps, only to receive letters two weeks later starting with the devastating phrase, “we regret to inform you…”.
Fitness for the “onion”
In 2019, the German “onion” has gone through a remarkable workout and now stands proudly, having lost its flabby midriff and gained a broad chest. It’s no longer the employees who have to grovel for work; it’s now the companies that are desperately looking for workers. Employee benefits are one of the weapons in the “war for talent.” Lucky is the company that can offer company cars, athletic activities, discounted season tickets, and so on.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Generation Y thinks such things are important. Generation Y, also referred to as Millennials, is the age group born between 1980 and 1994. It’s the employee group that will form the backbone of the global workforce in the coming years. In 2020, one in two employed persons will be a Millennial.
IT equipment has to be top
Don’t you offer free fresh fruit and drinks at the office? No sports activities or employee discounts? Do you think flexible working time models, working from home, and modern workplace equipment are enough? If that’s the case, I have bad news for you: for a generation that has grown up with the internet, smartphones, and social media, the latter three are as readily expected as clean employee restrooms. HR managers talk of applicants who have wanted to take a look at their workplaces directly after the interview and then retracted their applications immediately when confronted with the sight of two-year-old desktop PCs.
As such, modern IT equipment can definitely play a role in the decision to sign an employment contract – although the prospect of a work smartphone for personal use no longer packs the punch it used to. But there is hardly any room to maneuver below a certain minimum standard. In some cases, this is causing the IT department to rethink their workplace strategy. Instead, new employees are given tablets, which they are allowed to choose themselves, together with Office 365 from the public cloud.
Modern IT equipment and collaboration tools meet the old world
They used to call this an isolated solution. The colleagues of the new era get a separate IT environment, one that enables agile work, with OneDrive and Teams – while the other colleagues are left out. The long-established employees work in the old, managed world with Windows 7 (Enterprise Edition) and local Office suites.
That could spark jealous debates. In reality, however, that is only one of the problems that arise. From the IT perspective, significantly more administrative effort is required to manage two different worlds. Moreover, it opens the floodgates for “shadow IT.” What can you do if your network design can’t be changed that easily? How can the situation regarding IT management be resolved? Can the “old” and “new” schools even work together, using the same tools and the same applications?
The private cloud is a solution
The solution lies in the private cloud, which can act as a bridge between the public cloud and the on-premise world. A private cloud installation can provide the same functions as the public cloud. It may not be as dynamic as a pure public cloud approach, but IT management can go back to administering both types of user devices under one roof – with the side effect that even the established baby boomers and Generation Xers can dive into the new world, too, when it comes time to replace their devices.
The future, infinitely possibilities
If companies still want to make a technical difference for their employees, 5G could be the answer. With higher bandwidths for mobile connections, user experience can be improved dramatically. Today, for example, Skype for Business can’t reliably handle a resolution of more than 640×480. So, HD is out. 5G could create a “higher, faster, further” effect here – by enabling higher resolution or making videos faster. Sure, that will usually be seen as just a nice feature by many, but we can hardly expect that Generation Z (born in 1994 and later) will be any less demanding than Generation Y.