The new workforce
14 September 2016 | 0
The myth of IT being the sole domain of the young has long since been exploded. The modern workplace is multi-generational, multi-skilled and often multi-lingual, and the IT function has to serve all of it, not just those 20-something so-called digital natives who grew up with technology.
At the same time, IT staff are expected to satisfy the holy trinity of modern computing — that the technology provided to staff be secure, allow access from anywhere and facilitate mobile working. Just what is the best way to meet these conflicting needs?
“There are credible reports out there suggesting that by 2020, we can expect to have around five different generations working in the average corporate,” said John Purdy, chief executive officer of managed services provider Ergo.
“We’ve already started to see this manifest now. There has been a brain drain, so older generations are staying on in the workforce longer at the same time that younger people are entering it. In general, people are working longer and there can be a multitude of generational factors at play in any given organisation.”
From an IT provision point of view, that raises some interesting challenges. The average enterprise-sized business will have some people joining who are digital natives, who were born into a digital world and are used to touch screens, pinching and swiping and ubiquitous access. And then there will be older people who have to be retrained on how to do things differently from a process perspective.
“Your IT offering has to have the ability to work with all of those cohorts because there are very few organisations that just have one,” said Purdy.
“In addition, there is a very good argument that work isn’t somewhere you go, work is what you do and that location is no longer that important. In my case, I have been in my office for one hour over the last three working days. I’ve been at meetings and on the road but I’ve been working hard, and that way of working is becoming increasingly common with our customers and suppliers too.
“Work is not a place we go to anymore necessarily, and that has changed everything from security to network design to collaboration tools to policies around bring your own device (BYOD). That’s a very different work dynamic that we need to provide for with our customers and suppliers.”
Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests that the range of jobs the average person will have over their lifetime is set to increase, meaning that training and induction will need to evolve to accommodate an ever broadening spectrum of people.
“I came across a statistic recently that said the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before the age of 40, and that number is predicted to grow. Forrester in particular predicts that the youngest workers in employment today will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime,” said Caragh O’Carroll, head of partner management with Fujitsu.