I’m a huge fan of the show The Office. I know that not everyone likes it and that it takes a while to get to know the characters, but it’s really entertaining to me. Tonight seemed particularly relevant as the themes focused around generational issues in the workplace and technology.
See, the (brief) summary is that one of the young workers got promoted, so he’s not the boss of the boss of the office. He’s concerned about how the office isn’t very streamlined and doesn’t use technology to enhance business processes, so he comes in and gives a presentation on the new direction the office will be taking (using technology) and distributes Blackberries. Some people seem happy about this, some are vocally unhappy. One older man suggests that they’re trying to push the older workers out of the office. Hilarity ensues, but that’s the basic outline.
If generational issues and the technology issues that stereotypically go along with generational issues can be the basis of a one hour show that is extremely popular and watched by a lot of people, I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s a mainstream issue. We, in libraries, aren’t the only ones dealing with it. This prompts a number of questions for me:
1. Why do we tie technology so closely with generational issues? I know there’s the stereotype of the 20-something who is extremely tech savvy, but I know plenty of 20-somethings that could care less, and plenty of 50-somethings that are always on top of the latest new gadgets.
2. Why didn’t the Dunder Mifflin headquarters do some kind of needs assessment to learn the reasons their clients were leaving? Clearly, the audience saw that the clients were looking to save money and use a website to make purchases. If a study had been done, Michael’s antics could have been constrained to the office rather than in public.
3. Is there a way to make technology more appealing to the employees (assuming it’s really useful, and not just technology for technology’s sake)? It’s scary that the clients were all about it but that most of the office staff wasn’t.
So, maybe I’m over-analyzing the tv show, but it really resonates with issues I’ve been thinking about and reading about lately. To make up for my seriousness, here are some office clips (but only random ones because of NBC’s weird issues with their content):