Generations Divided on Workplace Social Nets: eMarketer

The water cooler moves online.

MAY 5, 2009 – All white-collar professionals use technology in the workplace.

According to a study by LexisNexis, 100% of workers surveyed said they used computers and e-mail during the typical workday, and 94% said they used Internet browsers.

In addition, 90% said that new technology and software improves productivity, including tasks such as performing research and getting news information fast.

A generational divide is apparent, though, when it comes to social media such as blogs, social networking sites and online forums. Even though 66% of respondents believed that new technology and software made building professional relationships easier, 86% of boomers said they never visited social networking sites in the workplace, and 81% said they never read blogs.

This compares to only 38% of Generation Y workers who said they never visited social networks at work and 58% who didn’t read blogs.

The attitudes of Generation X align closer to those of Generation Y than to the boomers.

There is some agreement on the appropriateness of social networks in the workplace, however. At least 65% of workers of all generations agreed with the statement that social networks blur the line between personal and professional life-rarely a good idea.

That probably won’t stop-or even slow-the use of social media in the office. Accenture found that 82% of Internet users ages 18 to 24 used social networks by year-end 2008, and Harris Interactive found that in March and April 2009, 74% of Internet users ages 18 to 34 said they had a MySpace or Facebook account. That, along with new waves of young people entering the work force every year and the proliferation of business-oriented social media tools such as LinkedIn and Yammer, ensures that in-office social networking will increase.

In the office of the 21st century, something is going to have to give.

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