The generation gap all too often expresses itself as a technology gap. A survey of white collar workers (most of them in the legal profession) commissioned by NexisLexis offers a glimpse at changing attitudes towards technology between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers. (Full survey embedded below). One thing Baby Boomers apparently really hate is when the rest of us are not paying attention during meetings and instead checking our e-mail or Twitter accounts on our mobile phones and laptops. A full 69 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed agree that “PDAs and mobile phones contribute to the decline of proper workplace etiquette,” while only 47 percent of Gen Y workers see what is the big deal. (By the way, who says “PDA” anymore? I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that it must have been a Baby Boomer who put together the survey).
Pretty much everybody knows that using a laptop or Blackberry during meetings is downright rude. Even 57 percent of Gen Y respondents think that it is “impolite” (compared to 67 percent of Baby Boomers). But the Gen Y workers surveyed can deal with it better. Only 49 percent find such behavior “distracting,” while 68 percent of Baby Boomers did. And so it goes, younger workers also tend to find such multi-tasking during meetings more productive (Gen Y: 35% versus Boomers: 20%) and efficient (Gen Y: 35%; Boomers: 17%). While Gen Xers find them to be the most unavoidable (29% versus 21% for Gen Y and 17% for Boomers).
Perhaps that is because we rely more on e-mail than Gen Y workers The average Boomer gets the most e-mails per day (69), followed by Gen X (63), and then Gen Y (40). Those number seem awfully low to me. I get more than 69 e-mails an hour (Granted, I am weird).
My advice to anyone who finds Blackberry or laptop use during meetings rude or distracting: have fewer meetings or get to the point faster. Invariably, the conversations people are having on their laptops, iPhones, and Blackberries are increasingly more interesting than the ones that are going on in the room.