Unlike previous workforces, today’s labor force is a fusion of three generations, that includes people who spent a good portion of their careers in an age prior to tablets, smartphones, ubiquitous mobility, and even email and in some cases widespread PC usage. And younger workers who have been surrounded in tech since they were born.

To get the most out of today’s workforce, it requires a recognition of the differences, large and small, in the ways that each of the generations – Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials – prefer to use technology to get their jobs done.

Of course, within each of those generations there are big differences in technology preferences based on the types of work that the tech users do. Essentially, those users can be categorized as mobile users, non-mobile users, and specialists.

Understanding the nuances that distinguish each of the generational categories and subcategories is important, so that a company can provide, as much as possible, the best equipment and devices to maximize productivity. Think of it as customer segmentation, with the IT department as the providers of a great customer experience.

Let’s take the generations, from older to younger, and break down their unique characteristics and what that means for the tech they want and need.

Baby Boomers

This generation entered the workforce from about the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, when the Rolodex was the ultimate communications organizer and spreadsheets were actual sheets of paper. They watched various forms of technology migrate into their workplaces over the years – yes, they sometimes resisted it, but you can’t beat their work ethic. They’re not known as the “workaholic” generation without good reason.

Many Boomers currently in the workforce retired once but came back as consultants or to otherwise supplement their incomes. Others may be retirement age, but have no interest in leaving behind what they love to do anytime soon.

Boomers are comfortable with a formal workplace culture and tend to prefer one-on-one communication rather than all-digital communication through emails or text messages. They are open to technology that complements, rather than transforms, their natural working style.

The best technology for them, whether they are mobile or non-mobile users, should enable easy communication (audio, video, or data), be lightweight, have a good screen size, and offer a long battery life since they love to work long hours. For those in specialized jobs, such as scientific research, vibrant graphics and displays are important, as well as abundant processing power.

Generation X

Having entered the workforce from the mid-80s to the late 1990s, Gen Xers are at the peaks of their careers, and can be found at multiple levels throughout any organization. Generally, they tend to be independent, with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Even though they may not have grown up with it, they were the first to experience cutting-edge technology, with the arrival of broad mobile phone usage and the birth and growth of the internet. They are very comfortable with the use of technology in the workplace and prefer a more informal environment.

Their preferences tend to devices that are easy to use (touchscreens are favored) and which can help them review and take notes on the move. These devices need to offer strong graphics capabilities to enable superior visual presentations, as well as a long battery life for use on the road or anywhere. They also love ubiquitous Wi-Fi connections, even as they recognize that they need to be mindful of security across multiple environments.

Non-mobile Gen Xers – think researchers, designers, editors, etc. – also do well with multiple screens for greater efficiency, and workspaces that allow them to work efficiently. That means compact form factors, good ergonomics, and a lot of processing power. The more specialized their job roles, the more they need the best software, superior graphics power, and plentiful storage.

Millennials

For all the grief they get from their generational predecessors, Millennials as the newest entrants into the workforce are quickly becoming the core of that workforce, and will continue to exert their influence for the near future.

In a word, Millennials are “adopters.” They have grown up with technology and seen an amazing amount of technological evolution in a short time. Consequently, they are uniquely comfortable with it when it comes to communication. Generally, they love to collaborate and share and they favor any technology or platform that enables this work style.

The workplace for them is wherever they are when they’re doing work. That flexibility requires devices that effectively extend their working style and are versatile enough to suit their requirements. It also requires reliable, powerful connectivity, security, long battery life, and good collaboration and conferencing features.

For less-mobile Millennials, who are in a more traditional workspace, it’s important to provide them with devices that reduce desk clutter and foster efficiency. Specialized users particularly require mobile workstations with generous processing power and memory, as well as high-quality screen resolution.

Common Tools

One thing all these workplace generations have in common is the need to collaborate. That calls for solutions such as Sprint Smart UC, which puts the business phone system and productivity and collaboration tools under one umbrella, a single service with telephony, messaging, file transfer, video conferencing and other productivity features.

Another common element is the majority of these multi-generational users are using their own devices at work. For the sake of their productivity and to preserve IT control, Sprint MultiLine offers an optimal solution. It makes sure business is done on a business phone number.

MultiLine works on a BYOD phone such as someone’s personal smartphone. It separates business and personal calls by establishing a second phone line, with a dedicated business phone number that is subject to IT and corporate policies. Importantly, it avoids spillover into the personal side of the employee’s phone.

Keeping generational differences in mind when buying tech can help streamline the adoption process and create a tech culture that helps foster more collaboration and enhance overall productivity.