Michael handsWith the continuous technological advances have come major changes in the way people work. And, according to the 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, it’s the workers’ attitudes and expectations themselves – specifically from Generation X and the Millennials (Gen Y) – that are demanding a major shift in the corporate mindset. Companies must adapt to their technological lifestyle or risk losing the best talent.

This year’s report (commissioned by IT leader Cisco and conducted by market research firm InsightExpress) includes data based on surveys of professionals in 15 countries, between ages 18 and 50. One goal was to use the info to provide insight into present-day challenges, such as balancing current and future employees, and address issues with increasing mobility capability and security. Following are a few interesting (and sometime surprising) findings from the report:

The New Multitasker: More than half of HR professionals believe that “Supertaskers” – those who can successfully do more than two things at once – increase an organization’s productivity. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that by 2020, Supertasking will be the asset most coveted by companies. True Supertaskers are a rare breed, but tests can help determine the small percentage of those who are. Additionally, most HR professionals believe that Millennials work faster using mobile devices and apps as opposed to desktop, laptop, or notebook PCs (and they work faster with these things than older Gen Xers).

The New Management: Companies must update their mentoring programs to accommodate Millennials, a rapid influx into the workplace. According to the report, “More than one third of Gen X and HR professionals who have experience managing Gen Y employees cited the greatest challenge is their “I want it now” ambition. Gen X and HR professionals agree managers in the future will need to change their approach to coaching/mentoring and collaborating with Gen Y employees…. Many companies have already positioned mentoring programs so workers can engage in learning relationships of varying types, from private ones to large groups (as they are used to with social networking).

The New Interview: The days of the face-to-face interrogation-style interview seem to be waning. Over half (58%) of HR professionals surveyed said they’d be willing to hire a job candidate by only interviewing via video conferencing (although less than half said they’d do this in the case of a management position).

The New Workday: More than half of workers believed they were accessible to work 24/7. And most (roughly 75%) of those surveyed believe that in order to stay competitive, companies need to adopt a mobile, flexible and remote work model, as opposed to the traditional 9 to 5 shift. Flexibility in the workplace is increasing; 25% surveyed noted they can work from home. However (ironically), 44% of Millennials say they are actually more focused and productive working in the office (38% of Gen X cite being equally focused and productive at home and office). 56% surveyed said their HR department either has or is about to implement a more flexible/mobile model.

And Finally: If given a choice, nearly half (42%) or respondents would give up their sense of smell (!) to have Internet access (far less are willing to give up their sense of taste).

Nick Royle