‘The Now Generation’ is a term that first popped up in the late 90s and early 00s to describe a young, inpatient, career-hungry generation that wanted everything ‘now’.
Since then, the world has been introduced to an abundance of new technologies, from cloud software and big data, to social media and artificial intelligence, all of which have had a profound impact on our daily working lives.
And while this demand for instant results was present decades prior, modern technology has clearly added fuel to the fire – today’s digitally-savvy workforce is hungrier than ever for instant results, and they are using technology to help lead the way.
Here are three ways technology is transforming how we think about work:
The on-demand economy: right here, right now!
When Amazon first came to the market in the mid-1990s, it revolutionised the bookselling business by finding a more effective and efficient way for consumers to shop.
Nowadays, we are living in an age of true digital disruption; where multi-million pound businesses are more likely to be made in a garage than a boardroom.
Uber, the taxi-less taxi service. PayPal, the bank-free way to transfer money. Airbnb, the accommodation provider that owns no property.
With this change in technology has come a change in mindset. At a time where we can order something online on one day, and have it delivered the next, our attitudes have completely switched – we expect real-time results.
But this ‘right here, right now’ way of thinking hasn’t just impacted the way we shop – it has challenged our entire way of thinking, including what we expect from our places of work.
For instance, climbing the corporate ladder and participating in formal training programmes are a thing of the past; today’s employee wants the opportunity to prove themselves straight away.
Digital natives grew up with smartphones in their back pockets and learnt how to code before they were taught to pay their taxes, so when it comes to their working lives, they have very different expectations from their employer, such as access to information immediately and the option to work remotely.
Corporate secrets are a thing of the past
In today’s digital age, there are more platforms for brands and businesses to communicate with their customers and clients than ever before. But there’s a downside – your brand is no longer managed by you. Essentially, it doesn’t matter what you say about your brand, it matters what others say about your brand.
Disgruntled employees can write bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor, irritated customers can tear apart a brand through TripAdvisor, and anyone can anonymously leak widespread stories on sites like Reddit, making closely guarded corporate secrets a thing of the past.
For instance, United Airlines experienced a very public scandal earlier this year when a passenger was violently dragged from his seat for refusing to move. To add to the scandal, an internal email from the airlines’ seemingly apologetic CEO, Oscar Munoz, which praised the actions of his staff was leaked online.
Another great example is US President, Donald Trump, whose strong, and often controversial, Twitter activity has caused widespread criticism of his online behaviour, which has worked both for and against him.
The rise of the robots
Judging by the rapid change in technology over the last few years, it is clear that developing technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation software, and ‘robots’ will undoubtedly have a major impact on our future workforce.
But is there a risk of this new technology impacting our jobs?
AI is already having an influence on decision-making and it may result in some jobs becoming obsolete in the future, but we are just as likely to see an assortment of new jobs come out of the woodwork. For instance, just recently there has been an explosion of job opportunities for data scientists as a direct result of AI.
For the average person, AI technology may add a different dynamic to existing roles or result in people doing things differently, but today’s workforce are willing and ready to adopt and adapt to new technologies.
As an example, Chatbots have replaced some of the tasks traditionally done by a customer service team, but this technology has also created a better user experience for customers than previously possible. For instance, the Dutch airline KLM have rolled out a Chatbot on Facebook Messenger that sends out reminders for flights and offers special deals to passengers, leaving customer service agents to focus on human-to-human issues.
So, how are organisations responding to this new technology, and how should they be responding?
We are seeing more and more organisations reworking their existing structures by investing in flatter and more fluid business models that are better suited to their employees.
It is also worthwhile for businesses to encourage and retain young talent by continuously adapting existing roles and investing in new roles, as well as creating adaptive and agile working practices to keep pace with their competition.
Organisations should also fine-tune their learning and development processes by adapting to the needs of the ‘right here, right now’ generation, who are more likely than not to take a Googlisation approach to L&D.
These trends demonstrate the impact technology is having on today’s employee and their approach to work, but organisations should also bear in mind that the individual should be placed in the spotlight here, not the trend.