“Try running a meeting sometime where everyone’s surfing the web and IM-ing their friends, and let me know how you feel about PDAs and laptops in meetings then.”
“So why is trying to get some actual work done at a meeting suddenly a bad thing?”
These comments, posted in response to an article on the technology blog “ReadWriteWeb,” highlight the real issue behind the latest generational gap at work: manners.
When LexisNexis released the results of a new study that examined technology use in the workplace, blogs across the internet lit up with cross-generational crossfire. Interestingly, most of the controversy about technology in the office wasn’t about how it should be used. It was all about when.
The Technology Gap Survey found that all levels and age groups in the white collar workforce use and appreciate new technology and software applications. One hundred percent of the professionals surveyed use a computer and email and calendar programs at work; 88 percent believe that devices like laptops, PDAs, and cellular phones help them and their colleagues to be more productive.
But while over two-thirds of Baby Boom respondents find the use of a laptop or PDA during face-to-face meetings “distracting,” less than half of Gen Y respondents agree. There is also a large gap between the two generations regarding the efficiency of using these devices during in-person meetings, with more Boomers looking askance at younger coworkers who insist they can check Twitter or Facebook during conferences without losing a beat.
Not surprisingly, then, while the majority of oldsters agree that iPhones and Blackberries are contributing to “a decline in proper workplace etiquette,” most Gen Y workers don’t think so. As one thoughtful commenter in the blog wars put it: “This gap is much bigger than a technological gap. This is a gap in how we interact with each other.”
By Deb Wierenga