Young people want the professional flexibility technology can offer without forfeiting their personal privacy

Young people want the professional perks technology can offer such as the potential for flexible and remote working arrangements without having to forfeit their personal privacy by feeling obliged to allow their employers and colleagues into their online lives.

Earlier this month, Guru Careers Network reported the findings of a commissioned study by Cisco (the Connected World Technology Report) into how important social media, mobiles, and the internet are to young people, and the impact of these phenomena on their approach to careers and finding employment.

The study involved 3000 young professionals and college students from around the world and revealed that

  • almost ‘35% prioritised social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary when accepting a job offer;
  • more than a third ‘felt it was their right to work remotely and access’ social media sites.

Staying connected

50% ‘of college students and young employees said they would rather lose their wallet or purse than a smart phone or mobile device’.

Cisco predicts that so-called Generation Y’s apparent obsession with the latest technologies could have a significant effect on their priorities when deciding where to work.

Among those surveyed

  • 80% ‘want to be able to choose their devices for their job’;
  • 56% ‘would not accept a job from a company that bans social media (or would try and circumvent the policy)’;
  • 66% ‘ask about social media policies during interviews’.

Business and pleasure

‘the new generation of talent is socially engaged, less money motivated and seeking opportunities that combine the work and home life like never before.’

The majority of respondents (71%) ‘want to use corporate devices for social media’ as well as personal use.

  • ‘Social networks: the bane of existence.’

‘I don’t want to be cautious every time I use facebook. I don’t go on there to impress anyone.’

‘work and private life should be kept separate…’

Conversely, despite students’ passion for the latest technology and evidence of a desire to blur the lines between work and home environments, many expressed reluctance to allow work colleagues, particularly their bosses, into their cyber-world.

There was a recent discussion on The Student Room about the dilemma of whether or not to start a Facebook friendship with a boss. Responses generally advised against it, however, those who were less dismissive suggested that it depended not only on the nature of the working relationship but also on the place of work.

Nonetheless, all advised caution in this area due to the number of stories of Facebook content working to the detriment or people’s professional lives, and in the worst cases resulting in job losses.

‘I would go and say “I believe it is best that our relationship is strictly professional” or words to that effect. A boss who finds that disagreeable is not a suitable boss.’

Similarly, young professionals warned their peers about the pitfalls of social media in the professional domain and similarly advised caution not with regards to who you allow access to, but to what you post online:

‘The point about social media is a good one… before protecting my tweets it is quite scary quite how much information about me was publically available.’

I don’t particularly want a public record of my political views on the Internet when embarking on a career… especially when they might come back to bite me one day.’

So, while Generation Y’s aptitude and affinity for the latest technologies can offer real practical advantages for them in their professional lives, they are wary that the flip side of this digital age is the risk to privacy in their personal lives, as expressed by one TSR member, in that ‘It is quite sad how guarded people have to be with social media these days.’