Today’s workforce includes a variety of generational factions, from Baby Boomers, Gen Xers (like me!) and Millennials, all the way to those from the most recent cohort, dubbed “Gen Z.” On top of that, this particular 50+-year span encompasses a time characterized by unprecedented change in the workplace. Put it all together and it’s easy to see the enormous challenge CIOs now face: They must find solutions that satisfy not only different age groups, but also vastly different skill sets, experiences and preferences.
What, if anything, can unite a labor pool that’s fractured in so many ways? How can CIOs help maximize the productivity of a multi-generational workforce?
My advice: Use technology.
In business, technology is often labeled a divider, the reason there’s a disconnect between certain departments, the reason some employees feel isolated or left behind. But I see workplace technology differently. Your infrastructure can be a unifying force, particularly if it’s agnostic technology that enables a “come-as-your-best-self” mindset.
Again and again, research has shown that employees are most engaged and productive when they can connect using the technology they prefer. However, last year Forrester found that even information workers seldom get to exercise their workplace preferences. Half of the information workers surveyed reported that they had no choice at all over the laptop issued to them. 64% said the same about their desktop PCs. More than one-quarter said they could not choose their smartphones and tablets.1
Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, in many cases, restricting people’s technology choices can actually exacerbate differences in skill sets and experience. For instance, a worker who’s previously mastered one kind of device (or app, file system, etc.) may be reluctant to ask for the help they need to effectively use a new one, or productivity may suffer if employees are bogged down with having to carry company-issued devices along with their own personal gadgets.
Fortunately, a new class of visual-collaboration solutions has emerged to help eliminate these types of concerns. These innovative agnostic solutions bring together employees, content and technology for a single, unified experience, no matter what devices people prefer for their work. They nurture immersive team collaboration, enabling real-time, synchronous collaboration via a shared digital workspace that allows people to interact with multiple assets and information sources at the same time.
As a result, no one is left feeling isolated or out of the loop—and that improves the employee experience while enhancing engagement. In addition, when collaboration can occur across various devices and/or physical locations, both the pace of innovation and decision making become faster, improving productivity.
1Source: Forrester Data Global Business Technographics Telecommunications and Mobility Workforce Survey, 2016.
This article originally appeared on Cio.com/IDG Contributor Network on November 6, 2017