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How Digital Natives are Changing the Modern Workplace

6 min read   |  
Last Updated on

The future of the modern workplace is all about technology. But above all, it will be about how people adapt to technology. Advancements in mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) hold a tremendous amount of promise.

The technologically savvy Gen Zs, who grew up using new innovations, are newly joining the workforces. This generation of digital natives expects their workplace to follow the latest and greatest technological advancements. Yet companies that do not encourage workplace modernization will eventually fall behind.

According to Citrix, about 50 % of workers find themselves as digital natives, and by 2025 that figure will rise to 75 %.

Who are Digital Natives?

People such as millennials and gen Zs who were born in the digital era of technology are Digital natives. This generation has been raised in a digitally endowed world. Whereas native and digital immigrants were used to communicate with each other without any technologies such as mobile technology, computer, and the internet. But these technologies have been using by millennials since their birth.

Marc Prensky is known as the creator of the term digital natives and digital immigrants, which he described in an article On the Horizon in 2001. All of us would be impacted by the digital natives who are joining and working with digital immigrants. The effect would be enormous for companies and those managing global teams. Companies are bringing more digital natives into their workplaces and this will impact the shape of the future digital workforce.

These people grew up with the adoption of digital technology as a basic condition of their domestic, social, and educational lives. The implied comfort of these workers and dependence on technology by means of working, learning, and collaborating together. As the workplace becomes more consumerized, millennials can change businesses of all kinds — from the technological investments of companies to their work processes to their organizational design.

What do Digital Natives Want from Work?

It's not only cultural cohesion that is crucial for millennials – it's also important to believe that the values of their company match with their own beliefs. Research from LinkedIn found that 86% of millennials will take a pay cut to work in a company that holds the same values as their own, compared to only 9% of younger generations. Yet aligning the values of the corporate as well as the employee is just one challenge that the HR faces. The other is promoting certain values and ensuring that employees know what they are and that the company has them in the first place in certain situations.

Digital natives want to get frequent positive feedback and recognition from their colleagues and management even more, so that of Gen Zers. If they feel their efforts are not appreciated, this generation is also moving from the job and pursue new jobs, of which 76 % will be on the lookout for a new job according to research from Office Team.


Here are 4 ways in which digital natives are changing the modern workplace:

1. The Move to the Cloud

Digital natives were eager to adopt cloud-based technologies and suggest moving from traditional on-site technology to subscription-based cloud models for their companies. Digitally educated people have been using technology for many years by storing music, images, and data in the cloud. Therefore, it will follow that their work is stored in the cloud as well.

Although moving to the cloud is definitely easier said than done, if companies continue to use outdated technology, they will face employee turnover and low productivity. Moving to the cloud is necessary for companies with a vision of the future.

2. Emphasize on Mobile Technologies

The ability to connect to the cloud and mobile devices has made it easier for employees to do their work. Digital natives find new ways to communicate with their work for better teamwork and more efficient communication paths.

The workplace no longer represents a location. Before, employees worked in their office from 9 to 5 and then left the office after eight hours of work. Those days are gone now. Digital natives work on any devices, anywhere, anytime. Mobile technologies have enormous importance to employees today and companies need to design their technologies accordingly.

3. Social Media as a Business Tool

Social media has also been used as a source for growth opportunities by digital natives. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research in 2018, 68 % of U.S. adults use Facebook regularly whereas 51 % check the site several times daily. When digital natives joined the workforce about ten years ago, they started exploiting the general public on social media to promote the brands and products of their organizations.

Today, if a company does not develop a strong presence in social media, they will risk losing out on a huge opportunity. A successful marketing strategy for social media will help increase the brand awareness of an organization, increase customers’ satisfaction and engagement, and encourage the organization to develop their voice.

4. Operating with Agility

Young people are bringing change to the workplace as they put their work with a new viewpoint and mindset. They have the opportunity to join an organization uninfluenced by previous experience with outdated technology and offer new ideas for modernizing business processes and creating a fully digital workplace.

Today, many employees are following the examples of their young co-workers. 97 % of workers say that they are likely to use new digital technology tools, according to a recent Nintex survey. This readiness to adapt to change and try new technologies such as machine learning, AI and automation would eventually improve the experience of the employees.


How can You Design the Workplace?

Organizations should no longer think about technology in isolation while designing the workplaces. Technology for digital natives is involved in just about every aspect of life. Their tech preferences affect how they handle themselves while communicating and working with others, and how they work most effectively.

These people are used to work in large groups, splitting into smaller teams for different tasks, and retreat to their headphones for leisure time. This generation balances work and life during the day and through a number of locations. Technology and the physical work environment need to be seen together more than ever before. In terms of the tools they use results in digital natives expecting:

  • The future workforce so that they can be connected from anywhere, at all times.
  • Productivity applications will become popular that help them to manage their days.
  • Talking about upgrading or rolling out new technologies, the smooth implementation of technology needs to be at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds.

The sheer pace of change is one of the biggest challenges in modern society and business. We would use technology more often than not at home and on the move in our private life and is much more modern and advanced than what we have in the workplace.

It's easy to understand the frustration of the digital natives when their workplace has outdated technologies and workflow systems. This doesn't make sense to them, particularly when they know they can work in a smarter way and collaborate quickly with their colleagues in real-time!

Before Wi-Fi, mobile apps, the cloud, and mobile jobs, digital natives have no living memory. They want to be able to work where they want, when they want and how they want to. It is not a privilege but it is a new strategy for work. When you are unable to provide these environments and resources, then you will risk losing the opportunity to recruit some of the brightest minds similar to the organizations that do.

To Summarize!

Digital workplaces now and in the future will allow digital natives to find information and evaluate information to the right people, without compromising safety and security. Inoffensive communication with smart technologies to help in working processes can help teams develop quickly and work outside organizational networks. Organizations need to adopt this mindset and organize in the modern workplace for digital transformation, or risk being left behind.

Listen to our podcast on: Digital HR Transformation and Future Of Work

This article is written by Rashmi Rekha Deka. She works as a Content Marketer at Vantage Circle. She likes to keep herself informed about the HR happenings and write about topics surrounding organizational growth. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com.

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