Generational gaps in the workplace manifest themselves in daily practices. What one age group does for friendly interaction over a smartphone or Facebook, another may co-opt in the workplace for business use.
The youngest age group at the office is the least likely to use text messaging and social networking for sharing business information, according to a Forrester Consulting and Citrix Online study on generational and country-specific uses of collaborative technologies. Only 26 percent of Gen Y (ages 18 to 34) said they would use text messaging to share business information with their colleagues. This age group is also the least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and Web conferencing.
Gen Y is also meeting-averse. Less than 30 percent think that meetings deciding a course of action are efficient. Only half of Gen Y thought it was important to pay attention during a course-of-action meeting.
By contrast, the Baby Boom and Gen X age groups (those over 35), value in person meetings and use text messaging and social networks for business use. Nearly half of Baby Boomers (47 percent) would use text messaging and video conferencing for business.
"There is some tension with the findings between the way people actually work and the communication methods they think are most effective - a sign that things are in flux," said Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president of Citrix Online, in a statement. "Despite admitting that in-person meetings are often inefficient and don't achieve their goals, workers still seem to like them."
Thirty-three percent of Americans polled in the study use video chat while British (72 percent), Australian (63 percent) and German (55 percent) workers use the technology daily and weekly. The French are right ahead of the Americans in video chat use at 36 percent.
Americans prefer meetings more than any other country, found the study. More than one-half of Americans polled like meetings in any form, followed by the Aussies (45 percent), Brits (39 percent), the French (31 percent) and the Germans (29 percent). Seventy-five percent of Germans prefer in-person meetings, but only 55 percent of Americans said they needed to be in the same room despite the major tendencies toward meetings in any format.
"We know from our own experience that the work force is more dispersed and mobile than ever, and that people are increasingly turning to technology to help them collaborate with colleagues and customers many miles away," said de Albergaria. "With this research, we aimed to discover exactly how business communication is changing because of new work styles and tools."