With one in three students and young professionals apparently now viewing the internet as being as vital as air, water and food, Cisco’s country manager for Ireland Adam Grennan said this morning that secure but not overly restrictive IT policies are vital if employers want to attract the next generation of workers.
Grennan was speaking on the second day of the Techovate conference in Wexford.
He pointed to how the 2020 workplace in Ireland is going to be a very different place, as the next generation of workers enters employment with different expectations and demands about how, when and where they access information.
Social media and work?
Grennan spoke about how employers bidding to attract the brightest and best will need to ensure their IT policy is not so restrictive that it prevents the next generation from using social media.
His words come in the wake of yesterday’s reports that some companies are starting to ask interview applicants for their Facebook username and passwords as part of their vetting processes. The Associated Press reported how New York statistician Justin Bassett was asked for his Facebook username and password during an interview.
Grennan drew upon the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, which looked at the internet usage patterns of 3,000 college students and young professionals in 14 countries.
Internet more important than having a car or dating?
The report itself revealed that one-third of the respondents consider the internet to be as important as fundamental human resources like air, water, food and shelter.
At the time, more than half of the 3,000 respondents also said they could not live without the internet. Citing it as an "integral part of their lives", respondents apparently rate the web higher than cars, dating, and partying.
Ireland was not included in the Cisco report, however.
Despite this, Grennan said the findings gave strong insight into the mindset, expectations and behaviours of the world’s next generation of workers.
"If employers want to attract this demographic they need to have an IT policy in the workplace that delivers mobility and includes social mobility and video. People need to be able to work remotely," he said.
"Work is no longer a place you go to, it is what you do. The next generation of workers want the same rich experience everywhere they go. As many as 70pc of those we surveyed said working in an office is completely unnecessary and that their productivity actually increases when they are not there," said Grennan.
Social media mobility
He also pointed to how future workplaces will need to be secure but not so restrictive.
"I’m not saying that we need to move Facebook into the work environment. But some social media applications do have a place in that environment," said Grennan.
He reflected on the Cisco global survey, which revealed that 56pc of respondents said they would not take a job in a company that was too restrictive. "We need to acknowledge this if we want to attract bright young people."
Here are some more stats from the 2011 Cisco survey:
- More than half of the respondents (55pc of college students and 62pc of employees) said they could not live without the internet, citing it as an "integral part of their lives."
- If forced to make a choice between one or the other, the majority of college students globally – about two of three (64pc) – would choose an internet connection instead of a car.
- Two of five college students surveyed globally (40pc) said the internet is more important to them than dating, going out with friends, or listening to music.
- 27pc of students said staying updated on Facebook was more important than partying, dating, listening to music, or hanging out with friends.
- Two-thirds of students (66pc) and more than half of employees (58pc) cited a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as "the most important technology in their lives".
The Techovate conference itself in Wexford has attracted speakers from Silicon Valley with Irish descent. The aim of the event is to spur on job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship, especially around technology, in the southeast of Ireland, since the region has been hit particularly hard with unemployment levels of late.