Working from Mars with an Internet Brain Implant: Cisco Study Shows How Technology will Shape the "Future of Work"

Millennials, Gen X and Businesses Pushing Supertasking Workstyle

SAN JOSE, Calif. – November 5, 2014 – Workforce demands by Generation X and Millennial workers to increase flexible work styles have been met with employers shifting their own policies to accommodate these changing attitudes, according to the 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR). Among other findings, the report also revealed that by the year 2020, the majority of Generation X and Y professionals believe that smartphones and wearable devices will be the workforce's most important "connected" device – while the laptop remains the workplace device of choice.  

Overall, the CCWTR report demonstrates the fundamental ways in which technology is shaping the future of work and how the devices, apps and solutions preferred by these generations are enabling new ways of working – including the rise of the "Supertasker" using four devices – and changes in the way workers and businesses view remote working (44 percent of Millennials feel most productive in the office), application use (six in 10 respondents prefer a pen and paper to the hottest note taking app) and global talent recruitment (50 percent of hiring managers would hire from only video interviews).

These findings also offer insights into the potential impact emerging smart devices, such as wearables, will have on IT and the creators of IT strategy, especially with the emergence of the Internet of Everything (IoE), which is creating new forms of connectivity and changing communications for the next generation of workers.

As in previous years, the CCWTR shows the mindset, expectations, and behavior of the world's next generation of workers, this year with added insights into Gen X and Human Resources workers, and how they value their connectivity (over physical needs), view their availability for work communications (24/7) and how these quirks shape enterprise IT and security policy, product development and design, and the ability of businesses to compete.


The annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report examines the relationship between human behavior, the Internet and networking's pervasiveness. Examining this relationship unearths data about how companies will remain competitive amid the influence of technology lifestyle trends. The global report, based on surveys of professionals between the ages of 18 and 50 in 15 countries, provides insight into present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to balance current and future employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks and technologies that can more ubiquitously deliver information.

Key Findings



Is the "Supertasker" the most desirable employee of the future?

  • More than 4 in 10 Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as nearly 6 in 10 HR professionals, consider themselves to be a "Supertasker," defined as an individual who can successfully do more than two things at once, and do them well.
  • HR professionals feel that Supertaskers increase the expectations of a "high performer" at their organization and as such, most feel Supertaskers are best suited for a managerial role, an individual contributor or an executive role.
  • About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe Supertasking would make an individual more productive. Similarly, HR professionals (62 percent) predominantly believe Supertaskers increase their organization's productivity.
  • Nearly two thirds believe in the year 2020, Supertasking will be most coveted by their organization.
  • Most indicate learning to become a Supertasker by managing their personal lives, and the majority typically mix work and personal activities, particularly Gen X professionals (70 percent).


Gen X vs. Millennial workers

  • Gen Y (Millennial) professionals are more likely to indicate being "wired" differently than Gen X employees when it comes to efficiency and multitasking. More specifically, 56 percent of Gen Y professionals note that they are more efficient than Gen X employees.
  • More than 4 in 10 professionals believe Gen Y employees are most effective at Supertasking, relative to other generations.
  • 60 percent of Gen X professionals and 81 percent of HR professionals think that Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster than older employees using mobile devices and apps.
  • Further, 7 in 10 HR professionals think Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster if they are allowed to use their mobile devices and apps instead of desktop, laptop or notebook PC's.


Living – and Supertasking – Dangerously

  • Slightly less than half of professionals spend at least some amount of time doing work-related activities (sending email, text, tweet or asking Siri to perform a task) while driving.
  • Additionally, two thirds have taken phone calls in the car while driving, including nearly half who take calls at least 25 percent of the time when driving.


Managing Gen X and Gen Y Employees

  • Nearly two thirds of Gen X and more than 8 in 10 HR professionals have previously managed or currently manage Gen X and Gen Y employees.
  • Among those who have managed both Gen X and Gen Y employees, the largest proportion notes that Gen X professional are easier to manage than their younger counterparts. Although, roughly one third indicate both groups are easy to manage.
  • More than one third of Gen X and HR professionals who have experience managing Gen Y employees cited the greatest challenge is their "I want it now" ambition.
  • Gen X and HR professionals agree managers in the future will need to change their approach to coaching/mentoring and collaborating with Gen Y employees as a result of more of them joining the workforce.


The Future of HR and Recruiting

  • Nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) HR professionals would be willing to hire a candidate by only interviewing the candidate using video conferencing (without ever conducting an interview in person).
    • When asked of hiring managers in general though, slightly less (50 percent) believe hiring managers would be open to hiring someone without an in-person interview.
  • When it comes to hiring based on their organization's culture, HR professionals are equally divided on whether having the best talent or finding the best fit for their culture is most important.
  • Most HR professionals (40 percent) believe personal skills are most important to hiring managers when looking to fill entry-level positions. 
  • While one third of professionals indicate their job hunting approach will always remain local, nearly 1 in 5 indicate their approach is already national or worldwide, driven by those in Mexico, India and France.


Death of the 9-to-5 Workday – The Always-on Lifestyle

  • More than half of professionals (Gen X and Gen Y) consider themselves accessible for work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including 3 in 10 who are accessible by both email and phone.
  • Does the 9-to-5 workday exist? More now like a 7-to-8 then 9-to-12 then 2-to-5 then 9-to-10 workday.
  • Flexible working schedules on the rise: About one quarter of Gen X and Gen Y professionals indicate their organization allows them to work from home.
  • Interestingly, Gen Y professionals who have the opportunity to work remotely are more likely to prefer working from the office, relative to their Gen X counterparts.
  • Among those who are employed by organizations that allow them to work from home, more than 4 in 10 Gen Y professionals indicate they are most focused and productive when working in the office.
  • Driven by those in Germany and France, more than one quarter believe organizations will be more nationally and/or globally distributed by the year 2020, where managers will not need to be in the same office as their direct reports every weekday.


Three-hour lunch is the new norm: Gen X & Y prefer flexible work schedules, willing to work at odd hours in return

  • Professionals are somewhat evenly divided when it comes to the typical white-collar workday, with slightly less than half indicating that they desire the freedom to work and play from anywhere at anytime with no restrictions (vs. having a traditional, scheduled workday of 9am to 5pm).
  • Most Gen X professionals believe Gen Y employees would prefer a flexible work schedule, although Gen Y professionals tend to slightly prefer a traditional work schedule, at 54 percent. 
  • Roughly one quarter of professionals are employed at an organization that allows them to work from home. Among them, only 28 percent of Gen Y, 19 percent of Gen X and 6 percent of HR professionals prefer to work in the office.
  • The largest proportion of Gen Y professionals (44 percent) indicate being more focused and productive when working in the office, while Gen X professionals (38 percent) cite being equally focused and productive both at home and in the office.
  • Though somewhat evenly split, slightly more professionals believe there should be a traditional time for work and time for personal life – especially those in China, South Korea, Russia and Mexico.


Work Flexibility an Attractive Recruiting Tool

  • Roughly two thirds of professionals believe that an organization that has adopted a flexible, mobile and remote work model has a competitive advantage over one that requires employees to be in the office from 9am to 5pm every weekday.
  • About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals feel their organization's Human Resources department is adjusting to enable a more mobile, flexible work style for its employees, though nearly one third feel it is not doing so quickly enough.
  • From an HR perspective, 56 percent indicate their HR department has already implemented or is planning on implementing a more mobile, flexible work style.


Work Flexibility > Salary

  • Overall, professionals are unwilling to take a pay cut in return for greater work flexibility, although, those in HR tend to be most willing, with 4 in 10 indicating they would accept a pay cut. Similarly, HR professionals are willing to accept the largest pay cut, with 56 percent accepting a pay cut of more than 10 percent (vs. 35 percent of Gen Y and 34 percent of Gen X professionals).
  • While salary is the most important factor for most, the flexibility to set their own schedule or the ability to work remotely is most important to roughly 1 in 5 Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as one third of HR professionals.


Adios to the Office

  • Most professionals believe physical offices will still exist in 2020, though about 4 in 10 believe they will be much smaller
  • Further, more than half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe their job will sometimes require them to be in the office depending on their schedule.
  • HR professionals are split when it comes to the future work schedule, though 4 in 10 believe employees will be able to work from home occasionally.


Working Remotely…From Outer Space

  • About one quarter would be willing to move to Mars or another planet if their organization was to open a branch.




When is the work device no longer a device used primarily for work?

  • Gen Y professionals are slightly less likely to use their smartphone for phone calls with about half (53 percent) using it for calls less than 25 percent of the time (vs. 43 percent Gen X and 36 percent HR).


BYOS (Bring Your Own Stuff) is the New BYOD

  • BYOD is now pervasive: 4 in 10 HR professionals indicate all employees within their organization are allowed to connect any device to their network in order to do their jobs.
  • Or is it? Elsewhere, BYOD is still a privilege: More than 4 out of 10 claim only select individuals in their companies (executives, sales, IT) are allowed to connect to the device of their choice. In Germany, Japan and France, at least 25 percent of employees are not allowed to access corporate data at all on any mobile device.
  • BYOD gone mad: in Australia, more than half use at least 10 devices in their daily lives.


The End of the TV?

  • Gen X & Y prefer smartphones to TV's. The majority of Gen X and Gen Y professionals would select their smartphone instead of their television.


Internet More of a Fundamental Resource Than Sense of Smell

  • Nearly half (42 percent) would give up sense of smell to have Internet access, if given the choice Nearly half (42 percent) would choose internet access rather than their sense of smell.
  • For most Gen X and Gen Y professionals, their sense of taste is more valuable than their sense of smell, as far less professionals are willing to relinquish their sense of taste to maintain internet access.

Keeping the Lights On…or Keeping Online?

  • Though professionals would choose to forgo their smartphone for one week instead of electricity in their home, they are much more divided when it comes to their selection between sacrificing their smartphone or sex for one month.
  • The smartphone is important enough that over one-third would give up electricity in their homes for a week before giving up their smartphone.
  • Significantly higher than many countries, most of those from Asian countries would choose to sacrifice sex for a month, including more than 7 in 10 professionals in Japan would choose to maintain their smartphone instead.


Stick ‘em up: Your wallet or your smartphone?

  • 54 percent of Gen Y and 38 percent of Gen X professionals first look at their smartphone when waking up. Additionally, roughly 1 in 5 from both groups would be most concerned about their smartphone, if robbed.


Reports of the "Death of the Laptop" have been highly exaggerated

  • If forced to choose one device, the largest proportion (about 40 percent) would select a laptop for both work and personal use.
  • In Russia, roughly 3 in 10 would choose a tablet, whereas in China and India, a considerably larger proportion would select a desktop computer; additionally, Gen X professionals in Germany are also more likely to select a desktop computer.


Is the Website done?

  • Only one quarter of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe websites will always be prominent in our lives. Interestingly, 21 percent think websites will be replaced by apps, though they do not anticipate it to happen within the next five years.
  • Among HR professionals though, slightly less (17 percent) believe websites will always be prominent.
  • On multiple occasions throughout the week, roughly one quarter indicate relying only on apps for an entire day.
  • Facebook is the leading choice for sole social media application for smartphones.


Wearable Devices will be more important than Smartphones

  • In the year 2020, the largest proportion of respondents believe a worker's most important connected device will be a smartphone. Slightly more Gen X professionals believe a connected wearable device will be most important, compared to Gen Y professionals.
  • In Brazil, employees would rather use a wearable device is the preferred device for work and personal life than a desktop computer.


Connected Cars in the Cards?

  • When it comes to self-driven cars, the majority do not expect them to be available by the year 2020. About 3 in 10, though, do believe they will be available, allowing for an easier commute and leaving them free to get work done.


Robot Coworkers?

  • Roughly 8 in 10 professionals believe middle income workers will have robots that can assist them with various work related activities – although most do not expect such robots to be available by the year 2020.


Internet Implants

  • Similarly, assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible, roughly one quarter would move forward with the operation – Gen Y professionals (26 percent) slightly more so than Gen X (21 percent).


Privacy? What privacy?

  • In exchange for a free smartphone with unlimited data service, more than 4 in 10 would allow their carrier/service provider access to all of the data and information stored within the phone.
  • Professionals from China, Brazil and the US are more willing to give access to their carrier/service provider, the government or their employer in return for free smartphone and unlimited data service – significantly more than other countries.


Supporting Quotes:

  • Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President of Cisco Collaboration: "These days people in the office are looking for instant access to great communication and collaboration tools. And we expect these tools to be always on, global and available on any device, anywhere. The findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide businesses with insights that will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to IT decisions and HR processes. In fact, it suggests new approaches to consider deploying technology tools and solutions for the workplace. Users will continue to drive adoption, while demanding a terrific experience with the products they use. We are focused on delivering that excellent experience as we bring them the tools to be more productive and work better, regardless of from where or at what time of day."
  • Lance Perry, Vice President of IT Customer Strategy and Success, Cisco: "The results of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide valuable insights into the care-abouts of our evolving workforce. Businesses should grab this opportunity to re-examine how they need to evolve in order to attract top talent and shape their business models. Without a doubt, our world is changing to be much more Internet-focused and becomes even more so with each new generation. CIOs can plan and scale their networks now to address the security and mobility demands that the next-generation workforce will put on their infrastructure. At the same time, they can use this information to assess and evolve their corporate policies for a win-win transformation that will position technology as an enabler of collaboration and business success."

About the Study

The fourth annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, an independent market research firm based in the United States. The global study consists of one survey: focused on generation X, generation Y and human resources across a range of industries globally. This survey includes 100 respondents from each of 15 countries, resulting in a pool of more than 3,700 respondents. The 15 countries are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Supporting Resources


Tags/keywords: Cisco, Future of Work, Mobility, Gen X, Gen Y, Human Resources, Millennial, Mobile Devices, Collaboration, Internet of Everything, Office, Work

RSS Feed for Cisco:

About Cisco 
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to

#  #  #

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco's trademarks can be found at Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company.


Share this article: