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October 26, 2010

Gen X the true champions of social networking

Leading the charge for Boomers and Gen Y

A report commissioned by Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems, has revealed that Gen X workers—and not those in the younger Gen Y generation—make up the majority of those who use social networking for business, followed closely by Boomers aged 55 and older.

In a release, the company noted according to the data, Gen Y's use of collaborative technology also lagged others. The survey, conducted by Forrester Consulting, provides a snapshot of how the global workforce communicates as work becomes more distributed and usage of collaboration technologies increases. It reveals a highly-dispersed workforce still favouring meetings, but increasingly using tools such as social networking and video chat to communicate and collaborate.

The study asked information workers of all ages in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia about their business communication habits.

Gen Y does not have the monopoly on technology use and social tools during the work day. Meanwhile, the older generation is getting with the program.

  • Gen Y is least likely to share information via text message (26 percent, compared to 47 percent of those aged 55+), and least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and web conferencing tools.
  • Gen Y uses social networking the least frequently (40 percent of Gen Y workers who use social media for business do so daily, compared to 50 percent of those aged 55+).
  • Older Boomers (55+) have increased their business use of social media 79 percent in the past year.

The younger you are, the less you value meetings and the less you pay attention.

  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient. Only 29 percent of Gen Y workers think meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient compared to 45 percent of Older Boomers.
  • Gen Y is least likely to pay attention in meetings and barely half (51 percent) believe it's very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.
  • Americans have more meetings and pay more attention – 90 percent meet in person to communicate and build relationships, more than any other nationality. Of those, 51 percent meet daily, compared to a mere 31 percent of French.
  • 75 percent of Americans believe it's very important to pay attention in meetings to decide on a course of action, compared to 50 percent of the French.

The in-person meeting is alive and well, but not necessarily effective.

  • 84 percent of all respondents have in-person meetings, but meetings often don't achieve their goals.
  • Only 45 percent are very satisfied that planning meetings achieve the task in hand, and only 30 percent believe such meetings to be very efficient.
  • Across all categories of meetings for designated tasks (e.g. review of documents, plan projects or initiatives, decision on a course of action), less than half of respondents believe those meetings are very efficient.

In an era of multitasking, what is still considered rude in a meeting?

  • 83 percent believe that side conversations are unacceptable during a meeting, and 77 percent frown on those doing other work on a computer or smartphone.

We still like to look each other in the eye.

  • Germans like to see each other during meetings (75 percent), while Americans find it less important (55 percent) though they have the most in-person meetings.
  • 79 percent of those aged 55 and over think it's important, compared to 65 percent of Gen Y.
  • Why? To read body language, say 78 percent.

Usage among users of collaborative technologies is rising fast.

  • 64 percent of those who use social networking tools in business use them more than last year. Video chat, team document-sharing sites and web conferencing also experienced significant increases in usage, with 56 percent, 55 percent and 52 percent respectively.

"We know from our own experience that the workforce is more dispersed and mobile than ever, and that people are increasingly turning to technology to help them collaborate with colleagues and customers many miles away. With this research, we aimed to discover exactly how business communication is changing because of new workstyles and tools," said Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager, global marketing and ecommerce at Citrix Online.

"One thing is clear: the human touch is incredibly important: the desire to see each other and interact on a personal level is not going away any time soon. There is some tension with the findings between the way people actually work and the communication methods they think are most effective –a sign that things are in flux. Despite admitting that in-person meetings are often inefficient and don't achieve their goals, workers still seem to like them. That's probably because people are hard-wired to see people and read body language. This points to a real opportunity for virtual collaboration technologies, specifically video conferencing, to further complement the need for personal interaction, while reducing the inefficiencies of face-to-face meetings."

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