Collaboration tech is making waves this year, allowing teams to be more efficient by streamlining workflows and more connected by facilitating comradery both on and off line. Collaboration platforms aren’t just for those uber-techy, ever-mobile, digital-loving Millennials, though. In fact, that’s the point here: Collaboration tech brings generations of workers together on common ground, giving them the tools they need to thrive together and elevate a business. If you have a multigenerational workforce, let’s examine why collaboration tech is the key to success.
The Value of a Multigenerational Workforce
Before we can talk about how collaboration tech can help your multigenerational workforce become a more cohesive and productive team, let’s first hone in on the value of having a multigenerational workforce in the first place.
According to Helen Dennis, a specialist in retirement, aging, and employment, different generations bring different strengths to the table. As she mentioned in this TechRepublic piece, Millennials are considered digital natives and often want to tackle new projects head-on. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are generally more accustomed to the corporate world and experienced with the inner workings of enterprise organizations. Who, then, are Gen Xers? According to this expert, they’re “a blend of the older and younger,” bringing what can often be the best of both worlds into the mix.
It might be hard to nail down habits of entire generations into just a few words. In fact, it depends on who you ask. One recent study, for example, found older workers were just as tech-saavy as their younger counterparts. Still, it isn’t hard to tell what the underlying benefit is to bringing them together: More knowledge and more perspective, which can inherently lead to more and better innovation. In fact, as Dennis said, “Leading—and successfully managing—an intergenerational workforce is becoming a business imperative that few organizations can ignore.”
To get to that place of heightened innovation, though, multigenerational teams must first feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together. That’s where collaboration tech comes in.
How Collaboration Tech Can Close the Generation Gap
It’s no secret I am a fan of collaboration tech, having just sung its praises as an HR tool. In addition, my colleague, Shelly Kramer, recently discussed our team’s deep dive into Cisco Spark, a collaboration platform that’s essentially a one-stop-shop for all things collaboration (yes, including video). Now, I’d like to put a laser focus on three key reasons collaboration tech can help close the generation gap:
- It can connect team members with similar interests. Think of collaboration tech as a sort of virtual water cooler. As company culture becomes increasingly important from both a hiring and employee retention standpoint, building a community is just as important as getting work done on time. Collaboration tech allows those with similar likes to connect. For example, you can have virtual rooms or threads dedicated to those who dabble in outdoor sports, appreciate cinema, take part in community activities—you get the picture. The possibilities for connection are there if you look for them.
- It can make onboarding and training a snap. Onboarding and training are made simpler and more efficient with collaboration tech. Whether it’s a Millennial or a Boomer on the other end of the screen, materials can be presented in one location and across a variety of channels (videos, documents, etc.) that convey the same information in ways that best resonate with the viewer.
- It can attract employees who want to work remotely. Remote work is on the rise. The most recent Gallup poll on the subject shows 37 percent of U.S. workers have telecommuted, and that number is surely higher today. Take, for instance, Vincent Brissot, the Head of Channel Marketing and Operations at HP. He recently wrote that he manages 150 people. Of them, 140 are remotely located across a whopping 70 countries. Vincent isn’t the minority here, either; many workers across a broad spectrum of ages want the option to log in remotely, and collaboration tech can deliver.
We live and work in a world that’s increasingly digital. With more reasons to connect and ways to connect than ever before, collaboration tech just makes good sense for organizations large and small. While it is possible to have collaboration overload—I’ve discussed that in the past on our sister site, Converge—it’s also true that effective (not all-encompassing) collaboration is table stakes for modern companies that want to be innovative and stay out in front of industry trends.
If you have a multigenerational workforce with different preferences, work styles, and interests, a cohesive collaboration platform can serve as the glue that binds everyone together, streamlining communication and workflow in a way that’s good for both employee morale and your bottom line.
How would you describe the generational make-up of your team? Do you currently use collaboration tech in your business? If not, now is the time to get on board. Tell me your plans in the comments, and I’d be happy to offer tips to help you succeed.