Are we ready for the next generation of workers?

September 12, 2020

Gen Z collaboration

Written by Jasper de Taeye, Sales Director for the Benelux market at Wire™.

Millennials were outsiders in the workforce for a long time. It was a big challenge to manage them well. How do you drive them? How can we organise the work environment in such a way that they can thrive? As an established Millennial Coach, I can share with you that the millennials are a precious and highly emotionally intelligent generation that can be steered towards the greatest things. Partially, today's world is that enjoyable due to the brilliance of myriad millennial internet entrepreneurs.

But, alas, the time for millennials to be disruptive and come up with groundbreaking and society-changing ideas is coming to an end. A new generation is waiting around the corner to make their great entrance; Generation Z. Currently, approximately 1% of the workforce are Gen-Z'ers. Most of the highly-educated Gen Z'ers will enter the workforce between 2020 and 2025. They are like unpolished diamonds. If we manage to polish them well and enable them to flourish, incredible innovation and an even more beautiful world are waiting for us.

So, then, who are those Gen Z'ers exactly? According to McKinsey, Gen Z'ers feel comfortable not having only one way to be themselves.

Their search for authenticity generates greater freedom of expression and greater openness to understanding different kinds of people. It's a generation that is independent, justice-minded but most importantly, they have always been wired. From birth, they've been immersed in this digital world with all the associated advantages and disadvantages. They are tech-savvy and adopt new technology easily. According to Morten Brøgger, CEO Wire, "Gen-Z is consumed with constant instantaneous communication on multiple channels". To put it simply, Gen Z'ers don't put their thoughts on paper. but are connected to a real-time IV, sharing their lives and engaging with others through numerous channels.

GenZ individual

How does that translate to Gen Z'ers in the workforce? According to Deloitte, to recruit, retain and maximise the potential of Gen Z'ers, companies have to drastically change the status quo. Deloitte continues: "Diversity is the watchword for Gen Z". Besides the innate urge to contribute to this world, justice and environmental awareness, Gen Z'ers prioritise diversity. Gen Z is not a generation that prospers in a bureaucratic and rigid organisation. On the contrary, they are the renaissance workers that possess a wide range of skills and tend to act fast - super fast. They use a wide range of communication tools to exchange information and share their viewpoints nonstop.

"While previous generations would write an email to discuss an upcoming meeting, Gen Z'ers create a chat-group in a messenger tool expressing emotions and thoughts through GIFs, ephemeral messages and audio messages."

Gen Z'ers tend to share all the information they have at hand and don't know any better than exchanging information via an internet connection. They are less familiar with old communication tools like the post, phone calls, or even physical meetings. Having said that, we know it is not advisable to share just any information online. If certain information falls into the wrong hands, the negative consequences can be significant. A Gen Z'er working in HR should be advised to guard employees' personal information diligently, a Gen Z'er working in a publicly-traded company should be careful with sharing financial information and a Gen Z'er working in R&D and innovation should be careful not to accidentally disclose research findings.

Organisations are often well-aware of the threat of sharing highly sensitive information via an internet connection and have often deployed advanced security measures to facilitate this. Although... can we expect Gen Z'ers to simply follow the rules that have been set out in the context of sharing highly sensitive information? From personal experience, sending a message securely in a bureaucratic organisation can be a slow process. Often, their security infrastructure is not tailored to the Gen Z way of working. Gen Z'ers want to work and act quickly. If they've gained information, they prefer to act on it instantaneously instead of establishing a secure gateway first. Speed is at the core here.

"...The vast amount of communications are strung across multiple platforms and frequently get lost in clutter. As Gen-Z enters the workforce it seems intuitive that they will require enterprise tools that can compile content and allocate it on one central location." - Alan Duric, Wire CTO & Co-founder

In order to seize the potential of Gen Z, we have to improve the enterprise information sharing tools currently present. These tools are simply not suitable for Gen Z'ers. But what should such a tool(set) look like then? I believe we should think along the following lines while developing this collaboration tool(set). Firstly, it needs to be usable on any device, at any time, enabling Gen Z'ers to always share their latest thoughts. Secondly, it needs to possess rich collaboration functionalities, capitalising on the rich and diverse ways Gen Z'ers express themselves. Thirdly, and most importantly, it needs to be super secure and privacy-focused. Inevitably, Gen Z'ers will use quick solutions to share information (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram). Hence, we have to anticipate that and make it highly secure to share information with this new tool(set). Besides, Gen Z'ers highly value privacy, so the applications need to ensure their privacy is safeguarded.

There is a wide range of applications that meet some, or even all, of these requirements. However, often these applications are focussed on one specific area of communication, like for example video conferencing, chat, or file-sharing. But rest assured, there is a solution that encompasses all Gen Z's requirements and can be used for all digital collaboration. That solution is called Wire. Wire is the most secure and privacy-focused collaboration platform. Its functionalities include instant messaging, audio/video conference calling, screen-sharing and file-sharing.

Based in Rotterdam, Jasper de Taeye is the Sales Director for the Benelux market at Wire™, an enterprise-grade, end-to-end encrypted collaboration platform. Bringing together his background as an entrepreneur and his previous experience at New Relic, Jasper shares his personal take on where the future of work is headed and its impact on businesses with a focus on cybersecurity.

Gen Z is coming and we can simply not escape that. Brace for it, because this wave of diverse, intelligent and very promising Gen Z'ers are on their way. If we want to seize their potential and not want to squander it with outdated collaboration infrastructure, then we have to adapt and refine our collaboration infrastructure to the current times. Three out of four decision-makers (75.6%) believe Gen Z will use another form of communication rather than email to communicate at work. It's time to rethink our current collaboration solutions and prepare ourselves for a fast, great and innovative time ahead, lead by Gen Z.

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