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Gen-X information workers—and not those in the younger Gen-Y generation—constitute the majority of people who use social networking for business, followed closely by Boomers age 55 and older, according to a survey from Citrix Online. Moreover, the use of social and collaboration technologies among Gen-Y workers lags behind older groups.

Among all surveyed information workers—those who use a computer for work—Gen-Y workers use social networking the least frequently: 40% of surveyed Gen-Y workers (age 18-34) who use social media for business do so daily, compared with 50% of workers age 55+.

Moreover, older Boomers (age 55+) have increased their business use of social media 79% over the past year.

Workers of all ages are using social media tools more than they did a year earlier, and cite the following objectives for doing so:

  • Communicating, establishing rapport, and building trust with colleagues: 64%
  • Collaborating and sharing information with colleagues: 65%

More UK Workers Use Social Media

A larger percentage of workers in the UK use social media daily: 57% say they use social networking tools to work, collaborate, and share information with co-workers on the job. Workers from other surveyed countries use social media daily, at the following levels:

  • Germany: 45%
  • US: 43%
  • France: 35%
  • Australia: 13%

Below, other findings from the five-country report conducted by Forrester Research, for Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems.

Gen-Y workers are the least likely to share information via text message (26% do so, compared with 47% of those age 55+). Gen-Y's are also the least likely to use video conferencing, video chat, and Web conferencing tools.

Collaboration Tools on the Job

Among today's highly-dispersed workers, email is the most common way to work, collaborate, and share information with people on the job, both at small- to mid-sized businesses (96%) and enterprise organizations (97%). Traditional methods of interaction—phone calls and face-to-face meetings—are also widely preferred among SMBs and enterprise organizations.

Many workers—especially those in enterprise organizations, use tools such as audio conferencing (49%), and video conferencing (31%), and Web conferencing (30%) to communicate and collaborate. Tools such as video chat are also gaining popularity: 10% of SMBs use the collaborative tool, as do 5% of enterprise organizations.

The use of collaborative technologies is growing as well. For example, 56% of workers who video chat tools in business now use them more than they did last year. Team document-sharing sites (55%) and Web conferencing (52%) have also registered increases in adoption in 2010.

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American Workers Hold More Meetings

Americans have more meetings—and pay more attention to them: 90% of US workers meet in person to communicate and build relationships (more than any other surveyed country). Of those, 51% meet daily, compared with 31% of French workers.

Fully three in four American workers (75%) say it's very important to pay attention in meetings to decide on a course of action, compared with 50% of the French workers.

Though in-person meetings are common, they're not necessarily effective: 84% of all workers surveyed have such meetings, but only 45% say they're very satisfied that in-person meetings achieve desired results, and only 30% say meetings are very efficient.

Younger Workers Value Meetings Less

Gen-Y workers are the least likely to say meetings are efficient. Only 29% of Gen Y workers say meetings used to decide on courses of action are very efficient, compared with 45% of older Boomers who say so.

Gen-Y workers are the least likely to pay attention in meetings: Just 51% say it's very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.

No Multitasking

Multitasking during meetings is considered rude: 83% of workers say side conversations are unacceptable during meetings, and 77% frown on those doing other work on a computer or smartphone during a meeting.

Most workers still like to look each other in the eye: 75% of Germans say they like to see others during meetings, whereas 55% of American workers say the same, though they have the most in-person meetings.

About the data: Forrester Research conducted the September 2010 online survey of 797 information workers, evenly split between the US, UK, France, Germany, and Australia. Information worker is defined as anyone who uses a computer for work. Respondents were of all ages (Gen-Y: 18-30; Gen-X: 31-44; younger Boomers: 45-54; older Boomers: 55+) and from various industries.

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