A survey of 2,500 teenagers, aged 15 to 18, reveals that 69 per cent of them believe it is important to meet people face to face if you work with them. Over two-thirds (67 per cent) said they want to work with other people as part of a team.
The survey was commissioned by unified communications company, Fuze, and the findings challenge both the trend for home/flexible/remote working that is popular among the existing workforce, and any assumption that teenagers – the next generation of employees – lack first-hand communication skills.
But the picture is certainly no clear-cut vote in favour of the office, as Fuze has claimed.
While the survey found that meeting face to face is teenagers’ number one way of communicating with friends (34 per cent), this was followed by chat messaging tools like WhatsApp (17 per cent) and social media platforms or texting (both on 11 per cent). These figures reveal that while meeting ‘first hand’ may be the single most popular method of collaboration for teens, nearly two-thirds of respondents prefer a variety of other, mainly technology-enabled, means.
Less than one-quarter of teenagers (24 per cent) currently use a landline more than a handful of times a week, compared to the 91 per cent that use a smartphone “all the time”. Other surveys have found landline usage to be much lower than that among ‘millennials’, with one survey finding only two per cent support. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of teens use a laptop three to four times a week, or more, compared to 40 per cent using a desktop computer.
The findings contrast with separate Fuze research carried out among 5,000 workers, which revealed the desktop computer is an essential office item for 82 per cent of employees, and the landline for 55 per cent of those surveyed.
Both surveys support the decision to adopt the name Fuze by the company formerly known as ThinkingPhones, given the shift in UC away from traditional voice functionality, and towards multichannel collaborative tools.
Designing better spaces
Sharon Francis, Head of Office Experiences at Fuze, has suggested a five-point plan to make office spaces appealing and useful to the next generation of employees, and to enable collaboration to thrive within the enterprise.
- Place soft seating areas next to all desks and ‘workstations’, where employees can go and sit, talk, and collaborate. The more effort it takes to walk to a ‘break out’ area, the more resistance you will see to adopting these spaces.
- Ergonomics and acoustics are key, so consider furnishings wisely, use height adjustable desks and introduce a combination of areas for sitting and standing, to boost employee comfort and productivity.
- Create spaces that promote fresh thinking and brilliant ideas, where casual meetings and serendipitous interactions can happen at any time. Employees will meet others they don’t usually work with and start conversations without forced communication.
- Remember to include small rooms that may be required for private calls or confidential projects.
- Don’t put whiteboards in closed off meeting rooms – place them near to where people work so they can be incorporated into daily communications and collaboration.