Lives today are strung together by fast interactions, prompt responses and immediate results. Naturally, these modern communicative tools are welcomed in the workplace. Cooke, a communication graduate student, explored this in a research paper entitled "Type. Send. Communicate." What began as a project for her communication management seminar revealed how the instant exchange of ideas is reshaping the workforce.
Cooke (pictured here) found that Generation Y workers - twenty-somethings who have depended on cell phones and laptops since high school - use technology to increase productivity at work. Meanwhile, their Generation X managers - born between 1965 and 1980, an era of Pac-Man games and eight-track players - faced challenges as a result.
Over the span of a month, Cooke observed and interviewed workers at a local small business. She asked participants when they preferred digital communication over personal methods, how often they used them and why. "Many of the interviewees admitted using text and instant messaging for everything, from asking questions about projects to where to go to lunch," Cooke says. Next, she conducted several personal interviews with executives in large businesses, including a financial sales manager in Atlanta and a human resources consultant in Columbus, Ohio.
She found that using technology increased proficiency. The young wave of employees who grew up using word-processing and instant messenger accomplished their tasks quickly and, in turn, wanted recognition. "They expected more breaks or to go home when their goals for the day were complete instead of working a traditional 9-to-5 day," says Cooke.
Her research was timely, relevant, and well-presented at last fall's conference of the Carolinas Communication Association, where she won their Mary Jarrard award for best graduate research paper. I expect her work will be well-received at the NCA conference as well.