What’s the most attractive thing about your company?
According to futurist and founder of TomorrowToday Graeme Codrington, it’s your technology.
“If you want to get the best talent,” he said, “you’ve got to accept that you can’t get them to conform to your IT systems.”
Now, people could be forgiven for thinking advances in technology have made life for IT departments easier. And that’s logical – there’s more choice, more capability, more of pretty much everything. Well, except budget perhaps. But the CIOs and CFOs of today are facing an entirely new kind of challenge, as Graeme reminded us when we sat down for a chat.
He talked about how a new demographic of employee – one that has grown up surrounded by laptops, tablets and smartphones – is bringing greater expectations into the workplace than ever before.
Meet the natives
Graeme believes the problem is not just that people are used to technology, but that powerful, simple and intuitive devices are now so ubiquitous.
“People have supercomputers in the palms of their hands,” he continued. “People will line up around the block three days in advance to get the latest iPhone or Samsung release. Do you honestly think they’ll accept the rubbish piece of equipment the IT department is going to force them to use?”
You’ve heard about these employees before: Digital Natives, a group Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research calls, “the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation in history.” And the inconvenient truth is that a chasm is quickly forming between the high-end technology they use in their personal lives, and the superannuated grey boxes they have to put up with at work.
This isn’t just about devices either. What it boils down to is the modern employee’s desire to work as they want, where they want – without being hamstrung by inflexible systems, website access limitations, slow internet connections or restrictive security protocols.
IT’s time to change
We believe, as Graeme indicates, that the only way to solve this issue is for IT departments to adapt – and quickly.
“This is a generation that have grown up with that level of access to the latest, greatest technology,” he said. “And they’re really not going to accept anything less in the workplace. We’re going to have to conform to them if we want them in our workplace – it’s not the other way around.”
The problem? We all know that change in IT is never easy. Budgets restrict it, security concerns restrict it, general complexity restricts it. But one way or another, the demands of the digital native must be met. Because somewhere there’ll be another company, a company that knows how valuable having the top talent is, bending over backwards to get them on board.
The big question is, where do you begin?
A new, more flexible way of working
As early as 2012 we conducted an experiment called O2 Flexiday. We locked the doors of our Slough office and asked the 2,500 people who are based there to find somewhere else to work for the day.
Before they left, we put together a package for each job role and individual, ensuring they had the right devices and connectivity choices to suit their needs. This, Graeme tells us, is something that IT departments often overlook.
“We know that you can personalise IT settings. You can get my IP address, you can get my IP config, and you can create a set of protocols just for me.”
Taking a more granular approach to tech delivery in this way made all the difference for us. Armed with either their own devices or those provided by O2, our people took to their chosen locations and got to work. The result? Zero negative impact on our operations. And employees were so happy to be provided with the right technology and flexible working options that 74% of them now regularly work remotely.
Making the necessary investments to support digital natives and allow them to be at their most productive may seem like a daunting undertaking. But, the truth is it’s a necessity for all forward-thinking organisations. And the payoff can be huge.
If you get it right – providing access to the high-level technology, fast connections and flexible working conditions that today’s top talent demands – you can tap into a generation of workers that McCrindle says don’t just represent the future but “are creating it.”
“This is a generation that have grown up with that level of access to the latest, greatest technology. And they’re really not going to accept anything less in the workplace.” – Graeme Codrington, Founding Director, TomorrowToday