No family pictures in this office

In 2006, I co-authored the book Millennial Leaders. It was probably one of the first business books focused on Gen Y. (At least I would like to think so). And although I only have a few current work related projects related to that demographic, I love spending time with college students and recent grads.

So recently, I decided to work out of a shared workspace South of Market in San Francisco, where everyone is 20+ years younger than me.

Sitting in their open office space reminds me about some generational gaps between this group and people at larger more traditional companies. One story in particular comes to mind. I once had a manager who told me that my co-workers questioned my commitment to the company. She said they my peers questioned whether or not ‘I was in it (the company) for the long haul.’ And when I asked her why they said that, she told me that they were concerned because I had no plants or family pictures in my cube. Instead of shaking my head in disbelief (ok I did shake a little bit), I downloaded some pictures of little kids (not my kids) from Google images onto my iPad and then hung my iPad in my cube, set to rotating pictures, so everyone could see it. The rebel in me wanted to show people that I could decorate my cube if they really wanted me to.

Today, as I look around at the 25 or so people sitting at their make-shift workspaces in this open space, I realize that not one person has a family picture on their desk or near their desk, and there is only one flower… and it is plastic.

No wonder many older people feel alienated from Gen Y and current college grads. They don’t try to ‘walk in their shoes’ and understand that there is another way of working…..

Two minutes later. Someone asked to use a fax machine here. Guess what. There’s not one of those here either….

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