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Millennials, Tech, & COVID-19

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by Startacus Admin

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Are ‘tech obsessed’ millennials helping businesses adjust to COVID-19? Darren Hockley, MD of Delta International on how millennials may be helping businesses face the current COVID-19 pandemic...


The media hasn’t been too kind to millennials over recent years. Those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s have been blamed for everything from national debt to the waning popularity of golf as a sport (oh, and the high price of avocados...)!

You don’t have to look too far to find an article complaining about how members of the millennial generation are over-sensitive, distracted, and technology obsessed.

According to such pieces, millennials suffer from ‘digital addiction’. They came of age in the era of social media and super-fast broadband and, as a result, are overly-dependent on their smartphones, messaging apps, and personal computers.

It’s said that they rely on virtual communication at the expense of ‘real’ contact; and, in fact, they’re the first generation to use their phones for everything except phone calls.

A changing landscape

pexels 3952231Still, with Gen-Z now entering the workforce, millennials are no longer the babies of the business world.
Conversely, they’re now the dominant force; having surpassed Generation X to make up the largest part of the workforce back in 2015.

Millennials are officially the most diverse group of small business owners, and up to 60% identify as entrepreneurs. Those working inside corporations now occupy mainly leadership roles – no longer entry or mid-level jobs.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that evolving alongside the changing workforce, technology has become such a huge part of today’s business environment.
From data collection to e-commerce, accounting software to e-learning courses, cloud storage to digital marketing, it's almost impossible to imagine companies functioning without the internet the way they did 30 or so years ago.

A global pandemic

Indeed, the Internet of Things has never been so important. As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread around the world, prompting governments to step up efforts to contain the spread of the disease, it’s likely many of us will remain in some form of lockdown for at least 12 weeks.

For those lucky enough to be able to continue working from home throughout the social distancing measures, meetings have now been replaced with video conferencing software and colleagues are staying in touch virtually, via communication platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Screen sharing has become commonplace in order for colleagues to help one another perform tasks, fix IT issues, or find files – and many of us have taken to social technology to mitigate the effects of loneliness and isolation.

Indeed, figures released by VPN provider NordVPN revealed that global use of its virtual private network technology had increased by 165% since 11 March 2020, meaning more and more employees are accessing office networks remotely.

Of course, the increase in remote working means extra cyber-security tech is in force too; password managers are working overtime as staff access various software and databases from home, and multi-factor authentication has become more important to stop opportunist cyber-criminals taking advantage of the outbreak.

Whilst for many people, the lockdown means a revolution in how they work and live their lives, for many millennials, it’s simply an intensifying of habits long-since formed.

The millennial legacy

pexels 3184454Indeed, as many employees struggle to come to terms with their new ‘virtual’ workplace, could it be that it’s second nature to the generation used to using technology to overcome disruption and change?

Millennials grew up in a time of technological advancement, globalization, and economic uncertainty – all culminating with the financial crash of 2008. Because of this, they’re used to adapting, of finding new ways to communicate, consume, and continue.

When traditional career paths seemed unstable following 2008’s financial crash, for example, many millennials turned to entrepreneurship, forming startups with little but an idea and a computer behind them (after all, it worked for Mark Zuckerberg!).

For the generation used to being ‘always connected’ to technology, 92% of millennials identify flexibility and remote working as a top priority when job hunting - a desire that existed long before the coronavirus outbreak and any social distancing rules.

Whilst it's hard to predict what long-term effects the coronavirus lockdown will have on working practices, with widespread home-working becoming the new (temporary) norm, it could be that millennials are in luck for once.

Once the dust settles, it’s possible the nature of work could be forever redefined by coronavirus and our dependence upon remote working technologies. Employers that found they built trust with workforces continuing to work well from home may believe that a more agile approach to working life is feasible, even favourable. After all, we have the technology.

Darren Hockley is MD at DeltaNet International. The company specialises in creating engaging compliance and health and safety e-learning for businesses around the globe, including training on remote working

 

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Published on: 31st March 2020

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