Fifty percent of Generation Y believes the Internet can decrease workplace productivity, according to a study by LexisNexis.
Fifty percent! That number made me do a double take. How can the internet cut down workplace productivity when it speeds up research and communication? I read further.
Twenty-two percent of Gen Yers believe social networking and multimedia sharing websites can decrease their workplace productivity. Fifteen percent said blogs can decrease productivity at work. Fifty-three percent said PDAs encourage too much multitasking.
As a Gen Yer, I can attest to the truth of this research. My generation has grown up with the unrestricted use of software, Internet applications and technology. We have had the ability to research term papers with extraordinary depth, or to waste an entire day perusing YouTube and Facebook. We know from experience the possibilities of these tools, but also the dangers of their excess.
Therefore, it is critical that Gen Yers learn to master technology before it destroys a productive work environment.
I was lucky to learn some key lessons early. For instance, the more time you spend on Facebook, the less time there is for homework. After a point, the more you multitask, the lower the quality and the less you get done. The internet will be only as distracting as you let it be.
For Gen Yers who did not learn those lessons in college, here are some practical tips for mastering technology:
• Live without social networking sites for a week. No Facebook, no Twitter, no MySpace. Zip. Zero. Nada. Your friends may think you disappeared into an internet black hole, but your social life will remain unharmed.
• Whether or not it is company policy, self-restrict certain websites and applications at work. Simply not logging onto social networking sites makes it much easier to resist wasting 15, 20 or 30 minutes perusing friends’ online bios.
• Don’t let the ability to do ten things at once trap you—stick to one or two, and you will complete them more efficiently with a better quality.
Here are some practical suggestions for employers:
• Discourage the use of non-work related Internet activity (social networking, multimedia sharing, blogs, etc.) on company time. This may be difficult to enforce, but a concrete policy helps curb unproductive practices.
• Take full advantage of technological innovation, while being mindful that not everything will advance productivity.
• Simply because you have the technology to multitask to excess, Don’t encourage excess multitasking, even though you have the equipment to do it.
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