Graduates Require Newer Technologies to Communicate in the Workplace

New independent research today reveals that recent graduates, the so called ‘Generation Y’, want more innovative communication technologies, such as instant messaging and web cams, to help them perform to the best of their abilities in the office.

The survey of 1000 graduates and managers carried out by Plantronics, shows that technologies used frequently by people outside of the professional environment to communicate are now considered by graduates to be ripe for the office too. A massive 82% of grads believe a hands-free headset would allow them to carry out conversations away from their desks with greater privacy, while approximately three quarters think a webcam (77%) and access to instant messaging applications in the office (73%) would help them to respond more quickly and personally to clients and suppliers.

In contrast, almost a third of their managers (27%) believe the office to be well-equipped enough. Fewer than 20% agree with graduates over IM and webcams, indicating a digital divide in the workplace as younger workers appear more tech savvy and likely to use non traditional methods and equipment.

When questioned about the skills of their graduate workforce, 63% of managers in the UK indicated that grads communicate less vocally than their colleagues and believe them to be forsaking face-to-face and telephone conversations in favour of email. However, graduates and managers alike blame the lack of privacy in modern offices (78%) and the security of being able to refer back to emails (53%) as the main reasons behind this behaviour. Just 16% of graduate managers blamed their resistance to pick up the phone or talk face to face on a lack of interpersonal skills.

Across industry sectors, 60% of graduates working in architecture, engineering and construction cite disruptive work colleagues as their main distraction, whilst HR workers find that the constant need to respond to email (88%) is to blame for breaking their concentration. The survey also found that smaller companies are the most restricting working environments for graduates. Nearly half of grads surveyed (40%) say that they do not provide mobile communications devices or sufficient flexibility in working hours and location. In larger companies, over half of workers surveyed(58%) said they are disrupted by office noise and a lack of privacy during their working day, and feel that newer communication technologies would help them to surmount these problems.

Interestingly, the survey showed that both managers and graduates relied mostly on email to communicate, spending over two hours a day sending and responding to email, despite neither group believing that it is the best way to communicate with colleagues or clients. A massive 64% of workers actually believe that meeting face-to-face is the optimal method of client communication, but less than half of that percentage (31%) actually found the time to do so.

Contrary to popular belief, the Plantronics survey also reveals the majority of graduates are not wasting work time on social networking sites, with almost 60% claiming to spend no time at all during work on sites such as Facebook. Just 6% of 21-24 year olds admit to spending two hours or more hours a day socialising online with the average length of time spent by the remaining third of respondents averaging between 15 and 30 mins.

Paul Clark, UK General Manager Plantronics says, “The way this new generation wants to work is different and that’s no surprise. Graduates today have grown up with newer forms of communication and we aren’t just talking email and mobile phones. By embracing IM and hands-free or even providing this new workforce with greater flexibility in where and when they work, employers can maximise the potential of the young talent they have.”