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As many members of Gen Z begin their final summer breaks before entering the workforce later this year, they’ll bring a fresh perspective and a digital-native mindset. However, a recent survey conducted by LaSalle Network has revealed that nearly half of Gen Z individuals feel unprepared for the technical skills required in an office environment. This includes using printers, scanners, multi-function printers, even landline telephones, and more.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the findings of the survey, explore strategies to help bridge the gap between Gen Z and office technology, and hear from industry leaders in print and scan with their perspectives on ways Gen Z may drive innovation in workplace technology.

Understanding Gen Z’s Digital Native Identity

Gen Z is often referred to as “digital natives” due to growing up in an era dominated by technology. While they may be proficient in using social media platforms and smartphones, this familiarity does not necessarily translate into a working knowledge of office technologies.

The LaSalle Network survey highlights some significant concerns raised by Gen Z regarding their technical skills in an office setting. Among the key findings is the fact that 48% of Gen Z individuals reported feeling they lack the technical skills they’ll face at the office. Only 31% of Gen Z respondents expressed confidence in their ability to navigate office software and tools effectively. 62% of Gen Z individuals believed they would benefit from additional technical training or resources in the workplace.

Acknowledging the unique digital identity of Gen Z is crucial in addressing their specific needs and challenges in the workplace.

Preparing Gen Z for the Workplace

To address the perceived gap in technical skills, it is essential to provide Gen Z with the foundational knowledge they need to excel in an office environment. This can be achieved through various means, including incorporating technology-focused education, mentorship and apprenticeship programs, and online learning resources.

Educational institutions and training programs should emphasize the development of technical skills relevant to the workplace, such as proficiency in office software, digital collaboration tools, and project management platforms. Creating mentorship programs that pair Gen Z employees with experienced professionals can also better support them in navigating office technology. This will facilitate knowledge transfer and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. Employers can also curate a list of reputable online learning platforms and resources that offer courses on office technology. Providing access to these resources encourages self-directed learning and empowers Gen Z individuals to upskill at their own place.

Implementing these strategies–and communicating them through recruitment efforts–will support Gen Z in entering the workforce with confidence.

Preparing the Workplace for Gen Z – Education and Innovation

As we look toward the future, it is perhaps more important to note that while humans have historically adapted to technology, the rise of AI and other technologies shows that it may soon be the other way around, as technology begins to adapt to humans. A key example of this is ambient computing, which works by learning the user’s needs, sensing the environment, and adapting the environment to meet those needs. There is room for exciting innovation when it comes to print and scan technology, and the entry of Gen Z into the workforce can spur the creation of new features and interfaces.

We asked Mopria Alliance members at Adobe, Kyocera, and Lexmark to weigh in on ways they expect Gen Z might usher in disruptive new technologies for the workplace, specifically in relation to printing and scanning.

“We recently had an incident where the printer required to produce an urgent brochure stopped working in the middle of a print run. The recently hired team member was admonished by their supervisor when they were “sitting watching videos on YouTube” rather than tending to the ailing printer or calling a service engineer. It transpired that the quick-thinking new employee was searching for a video to help them find a fix, rather than pushing buttons at random or waiting for someone else to solve the problem. A helpful video was quickly found, and the printer was back in action. What we’ve learned is that we need to meet the users where they are – be that by providing easy-to-follow videos, being present on social media, or providing information that’s easy for people to find. We’re missing an opportunity if we provide the information but make it hard for users to access.”
Mike Scrutton, Director of Print Technology & Strategy, Adobe

“While Gen Z’s expectations and characteristics may push for a shift towards digital alternatives and sustainability, their aptitude for technology could also drive an evolution of office print and scan technology. The future might see more mobile-friendly, eco-conscious, collaborative, and user-friendly solutions, with the integration of cloud and AI technologies to enhance productivity and streamline workflows.”
Dilinur Wushour, President, Kyocera Document Solutions Development America, Inc.

“Innovation in the office is a topic that is discussed in every meeting at Lexmark.  To meet the needs of Gen Z and all employees, the workplace must adapt to the evolution of technology every minute of every day.  Innovative technologies must be easily accessible, integrated, and convenient to the employee to drive adoption and efficiency gains – these factors heavily into the purchase and deployment of these technologies. Innovations could include document storage and sharing, collaboration platforms, and even social events to drive intended outcomes.  Technology also must be accessible to the employee – whether that be mobile-ready or available without VPN and enabled with ease while maintaining the security requirements of an organization.”
Eric McCann, Manager, Technology Portfolio Architect, Lexmark

While there are many ways employers, colleges, and training programs can better prepare Gen Z to confidently enter an office environment, there are perhaps far greater ways developers of office technologies can innovate and adapt their technologies for Gen Z and generations to follow.

Stay tuned next month as we continue to explore this topic with practical ways employers and office managers can prepare the workplace for Gen Z.

To learn more about the Mopria Alliance and our universal standards for print and scan, please visit mopria.org.

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