Credit: Esinem via Wikipedia

About six months ago, this Fast Company article on Why Digital Talent Doesn’t Want to Work at Your Company was doing the rounds on the interwebs, and it cited 5 corporate cultural elements that turn this new(er) generation of white-collar desk jockeys off from working in traditional organizations:

  • Every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy.
  • Mediocre is good enough.
  • Trial and error is condemned.
  • Your company is structured so it takes a lifetime to get to the top, and as such there are no digital experts in company-wide leadership positions.
  • Your offices are cold, impersonal and downright stodgy.

It was a great piece of link/like-bait, especially with the digital crowd, but it did nothing to explain why digital talent has this uncompromising attitude or where it comes from. Which got me thinking…

Digital talent is a new untethered working class. Give them a laptop and a wifi connection, and they can work from virtually anywhere. And there more of a class than a generation because they include everyone from baby-boomers to generations X, Y, and Z.

And for this new class, the physical is cumbersome. It’s an obstacle and an artifice that often costs more money than it’s worth and gets in the way of actually focusing on what needs to get done.

Take office space: it’s useful to have a physical place of business where everyone meet and infrastructure can be housed, but it’s only one place where work can get done, and digital talent has a hard time accepting having to spend 8-9 hours a day sitting at a desk when they don’t need to be there every one of those 8-9 hours — especially considering how most people only spend about  5 of those hours working, and the rest of the time Facebooking or making mundane smalltalk by water cooler or coffee machine.

I think this is why digital talent tends to be more entrepreneurial: I mean, sure, the barriers to entry in any digital space are a lot lower than other industries, but the drive to take advantage of that tends to come from people getting tired and fed-up of having to spend 40-50 hours a week in a cubicle when they only need to be there for 25, so they say “fuck it” and cut-out on their own, work that 25 hours/week from wherever they want, and spend that extra free-time enjoying life and doing things they love.

So of course most organizations have trouble recruiting and holding on to digital talent.

There is a new untethered class and they know that something is up, and if you want to hold on to them, you need to trust them and let them excel and try new things because, frankly, they’ve got better places to be than in a cubicle and better things to do than help you justify outdated processes and obsolete overhead that are only holding your organization back.

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