Considerthe changing workforce demographics. New employees just coming outof school have been raised on email, IM, MySpace, Facebook, and othersocial software. In my previousblog entry, I said, "thetools that we use outside of work as consumers tend to creep into theenterprise;" however, for this new, younger set of employees, thetechnologies will not "creep"; they will be expected. Somebusinesses tend to restrict technologies like IM and blogging thatcould potentially be risky despite potential benefits. For this newgeneration of employees, allowing usage of collaborative technologiesmay improve productivity and could even be used as a recruiting /retention tool for these employees.
Despitenot being raised on these technologies, many of us have begun toembrace social software both in personal and professional settings. Social software can play an important role in business productivityin ways that were not possible before. For example, I have used IMto communicate with co-workers during phone interviews with potentialnew hires and with colleagues during difficult negotiations allow usto communicate and strategize silently in parallel with anotherdiscussion.
We canencourage our friends and colleagues to begin using these socialsoftware technologies and begin using them in their daily work lives.Many people hear about web 2.0, instant messaging, wikis, socialbookmarking, podcasts, blogging and other social software, but theyobject to using it for a variety of reasons:
They find it difficult to see the value for their personal or work environments.
They do not really understand what it is or what it does.
They think it is mostly for younger generations.
They think it is complicated and hard to use.
Formost of these objections, demonstrations and information may helptremendously. Hold some informal brown bag lunch sessions at work toshow others how easy it is to blog or to add information to a wiki. Do not overwhelm them right away with the details. The point is notto train them on every aspect of the technology (that can comelater); the point is to show them how to accomplish a couple ofsimple tasks to get them started and to get them interested. Bethere for them with answers to questions in a helpful andnon-condescending manner. Some will embrace the technology and somewill not; we can all be stubborn at times. For those that do embracethe technology, you can follow up with additional information, moredetails, and extra training as needed. You can even use some of theyounger employees recently entering the workforce to conduct thebrown bags. The new employee gets some additional visibility andothers can learn about social software from an expert in the topic.