I want to be a multi-tasker, too

13 November 2009

It’s amazing thing to behold: when what I try to communicate (natch, when what I think I am communicating) to clients suddenly appears in print and becomes…credible. After all, if the Wall Street Journal says that managers have to get hip to social media or risk being alienated by the next generation of workers, it must be true…

On Tuesday, the Globe & Mail published an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal titled “Texting + social media = better workers?” and it was interesting to see the link that was made between being hyper-socialized and a multi-tasker. It’s reminiscent of me being told a decade ago when I was trying to make my first career move that companies preferred hiring people from agencies because they could multi-task more effectively than people like me, who worked client-side. (As an aside, I totally disagree).

Multi-tasking seems to be a strange but valued job requirement that is not usually laid out in black and white but is constantly prized as a skill set that workers must have and even excel at. And now we can thank social media instead of agency experience for helping people become more adept.

(Although as an aside again, what happens when it’s agency people who use social media – does anyone know of any examples of spontaneous combustion due to hyper-social multi-tasking?)

But back to the article, which is examining some of the issues that come with having a very wired and very social workforce. Studies now show that online social networking at the office negatively impacts business productivity (according to Nucleus Research), and strangely, there have been reports that some kids have figured out how to text with their hands in their pockets, which is raising concerns about how they’ll deal with work environments that haven’t completely let go of the old-school notion of proper or approved channels of communication…when they get there.

This is a debate that will keep going for awhile. Social media isn’t a fad, and the reality is that more and more companies are trying to figure out how to jump on the bandwagon, if not quite embracing it openly. Managing multiple conversations isn’t necessarily a detriment. It’s just ensuring that while all those conversations take place that the focus and attention is still on the tasks at hand. Really, we’re just creating a new generation of multi-taskers who are unsurprinsingly being influenced by the tools that they use on a daily basis…to communicate.

And on that note, I’m going to refresh my facebook update through my Tweetdeck via my BlackBerry.

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