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Millennials are Leading the Smartphone Revolution in the Workplace

The benefits and downsides of widespread smartphone use at work

It is hard to deny that smartphones have taken over nearly every aspect of our lives, and the workplace is no exception. While all generations now seem to be similarly tied to their smartphone for work purposes, Millennials are the generation leading the way.


Smartphones in the Workplace

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are quickly becoming the most prominent demographic in the U.S. labor force, and they’re bringing their smartphones along for the ride.

According to a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, smartphones are an integral part of the workplace, giving workers access to email, calendars, and other means of communication at the swipe of a finger. Meetings can be scheduled and rescheduled, expense reports can be submitted and performance can be rated, anytime, anywhere.

Of course, not all companies have endorsed such widespread smartphone use. But those companies that have not may find that they have a hard time attracting and retaining Millennial employees.

According to Jason Dorsey, Millennial research expert, President, and Co-Founder at The Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials will “turn down a job that doesn’t have the mobile or other technology they think the company needs to compete successfully.”

The good news is that Millennials’ mobile dependency is actually helping companies become more efficient and able to multi-task. A manager on a business trip can still be part of the weekly staff meeting via video conference. The company’s master calendar can be updated immediately to reflect vacation time and last-minute scheduled meetings to keep everyone in the loop.

Mobile phones are also a huge benefit for entrepreneurial Millennials who don’t have an office and do most of their work from home or on the go. They can still have a cohesive staff without having to physically touch base or even talk on the phone every day.

Of course, there are some downsides to smartphone ubiquity as well. Now that one’s work life, social life, and family life are integrated on one device, it can be nearly impossible to unplug. Unfortunately, some companies and supervisors may take advantage of this and expect an immediate response to an email or text message, even if you’re not working. It becomes difficult to truly “clock out.”

Another unexpected side effect of smartphone use is what a survey by Harris Poll and MobileIron calls “mobile guilt.” The survey found that 61 percent of people feel guilty getting work communications during non-work hours, and 58 percent feel guilty getting personal messages during the workday.

Do you feel tied to a smartphone or mobile device when you are at work? How does it impact your performance? Tweet us at @WhatTheGen and @JasonDorsey to join the conversation.

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