8 Ways COVID-19 Will Forever Change the Future Workforce

This is how the Coronavirus is changing how Generation Z approaches work, views employers, and pursues education.

In a matter of seven days, COVID-19 has reoriented our relationships with each other, the media, technology, and the work we do. Humanity has never experienced such a swift and universal shift. 
Teachers are uploading lessons to YouTube for the first time. 
Doctors are utilizing FaceTime or Google Duo for telemedicine services with patients. 
Musicians are live streaming concerts on Facebook. 
Consumers are using Apply Pay to purchase essential services remotely.
Workers are using Teams to digitally collaborate with colleagues. 
The unfolding pandemic and the toil back to “normal,” will leave education, jobs, and industries changed in its wake. But perhaps the most change will happen to the future workforce, Generation Z.
Gen Z (those born after 1998) grew up in a post-9/11 world and during the Great Recession. And now during the most formative time of their lives, they face a challenge like no generation before them. This unprecedented event will have an indelible influence on their behaviors, decisions, and expectations.
Despite many headlines about how younger generations are disregarding the threat of the virus, 93 percent of Gen Z and Millennials are being impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, 74 percent of middle and high school students have stopped going to school. Anxiety and cautious are the top two emotions that Gen Z and Millennials are having about Coronavirus and only 19 percent of Gen Z and Millennials feel prepared during this pandemic.
After 9/11 air travel and airports were different. After COVID-19 the future workforce will be different.

8 Ways COVID-19 Will Forever Change the Future Workforce 

1. Deeper Dependence on Technology

While humanity strives to create physical distance from each other, the world turns to digital platforms and tools to remain socially connected. 
Established generations forced to connect digitally are now discovering that technology has gotten a lot easier to use while they were ignoring it. And if Gen Z wasn’t already using their phone to pay for groceries, coffee, or lunch they are now due to social distancing.
Established generations new found appreciation for technology (e.g. the ease of using Zoom or Slack to work remotely) coupled with Gen Z’s existing digital intelligence, will escalate the adoption rate of new technology at work. 

2. Unconventional Educational Backgrounds

Due to the pandemic, 290 million students around the world and 4.9 million U.S. students have been impacted as tens of thousands of schools close. Forced into virtual learning, teachers find themselves in unfamiliar territory as 70 percent of teachers have never taught a virtual course. Yet students find themselves in very familiar (and often preferred) territory as 62 percent of Gen Z would choose no college degree and unlimited Internet access over a college degree and no Internet access.
In addition, only 26 percent of Gen Z perceive education as a barrier to workplace success and 90 percent of employers say they are more open to accepting non-traditional candidates that do not hold four-year college degrees. 
As long-held beliefs of higher education begin to erode for students, parents, and employers, expect to see the future workforce to have unconventional educational backgrounds with a constellation of nano-degrees, certifications, and digital portfolios that better position them to thrive in tomorrow’s high-flux marketplace.

3. Entering Careers Sooner

Because there are more college alternatives available today than ever before, Gen Z might consider forgoing a traditional college education entirely to go work for a company that provides college-like learning and development. In fact, 62 percent of Gen Z are open to the idea of entering the workforce before completing a college degree according to Generation Z: A Century in the Making by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace.
Jenn Prevoznik, the Global Head of Early Talent Acquisition at SAP, says she is “all for” Gen Z skipping college to come to work for SAP because what really matters are their skills and willingness to learn not necessarily their degree.
The age-old model of learn to work is shifting to work to learn. 

4. Enhanced Value on Learning and Development

When Gen Z enters the workforce sooner than previous generations or with an unconventional educational background, they will be looking to their employer to provide the necessary training to gain the hard and soft skills Gen Z needs to perform well at their job and grow professionally.
Eighty-four percent of Americans say their career path will be significantly different from their parents. The idea of working at one company or in one industry or in one role is old-fashioned, especially for the future workforce.
Employers who deliver learning experiences that Gen Z actually uses, enjoys, and applies will win over the future workforce.

5. Revised View of Employers

Before COVID-19, work and life were blending like never before. Because of mobile technology, workers were bringing more work home and more life to work. Workplaces became workspaces. During COVID-19, work and life fully merged. 
For Gen Z, it’s becoming difficult to distinguish where work stops and where life starts so to them it’s all just life. Work and life are in harmony.
The future workplace isn’t where work happens, it’s where life happens. Expect Gen Z to view their employers as a community where support, wellness, education, and more are extended. 

6.  Uncommon Career Paths

Gen Z service workers are losing more work hours than any other demographic and 29 percent of Gen Z workers (18-24 years-old) have been put on leave compared to only 13 percent of previous generations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that Gen Z is interested in diversifying their sources of income. In fact, given a choice, 53 percent of Gen Z would rather work a gig job than a full-time job and 46 percent of Gen Z are already participating in the gig economy.
As work cycles spin faster and faster—truncating the need for full-time employees—and gig work becomes more accessible and lucrative, expect uncommon career paths to be commonplace for the future workforce.

7.  Demand for Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

In addition to being a highly anxious and stressed generation, Gen Z is also the loneliest generation. More than half of Gen Zers identify with 10 of the 11 feelings associated with loneliness. The most common feelings experienced by Gen Z are feeling like people around them are not really with them (69%), feeling shy (69%), and feeling like no one really knows them well (68%).
After the uncertainty and social isolation of COVID-19 passes, Gen Z will thrive from the connection, assurance, and empathy delivered by emotionally intelligent leaders.

8.  Greater Global Unity

Not only has Gen Z grown up gaming in real time with strangers from around the world but they are now experiencing a global health crisis together. The number of Gen Zers who identify more as a global citizen than as a citizen of their country (42 percent) is likely to increase considering that shared hardship bonds people together. 
The future workforce will have a greater sense of global unity and as a result will demand more diversity and inclusion from their employers and leaders. 

Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

The Complete Toolkit to Lead Remote Workers

Use these tactics and tools to keep your remote team unified, productive, and engaged.

Ubiquitous connectivity, mobile technology, shifting generational expectations, and life events (such as the COVID-19 outbreak) have all swiftly contributed to the growing number of people working from home.

Leading a remote workforce requires a different set of tools to sustain relationships and maintain productivity across a team.
Below are tactics and tools for leaders to boost engagement, create unity, and extend company culture among a remote workforce.

5 Ways Leaders Can Extend Company Culture to Remote Workers 

1. Establish a Digital Water Cooler

On a remote team, watercooler talk (random and non-work-related conversation)is nonexistent. However, there are ways to cultivate the healthy aspects of water-cooler talk with a remote team. 
Slack or Basecamp are chat services that are ideal for creating "channels" where watercooler talk can happen. Labeling channels such as “LOL” or “watercooler” can create a virtual place where the team can connect and build rapport with one another. 

2. Openly Knowledge Share

Leaders should consider sharing industry news, company updates, financial status, etc. via a reoccurring virtual town hall meeting. 
In addition, encouraging remote employees to share their work or non-work related knowledge is also a great way to cultivate culture. SnagIt or Screencast lets users share videos and images, and has mark up tools like blur, spotlight, magnify, and stamps that make it easy to share and teach others. Zoom or Skype are video conferencing services that also enable users to meet virtual and knowledge share.

3. Provide Recognition Digitally

High fives and pat on the backs aren’t possible when remote working. Leaders must consider new ways to recognize their team digitally. 
15Five is a continuous performance management solution that helps leaders extend digital recognition, feedback, and coaching to their remote workforce. In addition, Tango Card makes it easy to send digital rewards (e-gift cards) to your team.
Read this to understand how emojis (and other visuals) can help clarify the emotional intent of our communications. This becomes increasingly important when remote working because we are less reliant on facial expressions.

4. Send Company Swag

It’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the company brand.
Sending company swag (mugs, t-shirts, phone chargers, etc.) to your remote team can help to keep them connected to the company brand. Also, since remote workers are likely working alongside family members and/or roommates, send additional swag to include them.  

5. Meet in Person (Eventually)

As powerful and enabling as technology is, it can’t replace the human-to-human connection. The secret to cultivating and sustaining culture among a remote workforce, is in-person meet-ups. In-person meetings create opportunities for employees to bond, build trust, relationship build, and have fun. All core to building enduring team culture.
For example, the 900+ remote employee company, Automattic, gets the entire company together every year for a “grand meet-up” in a beautiful location.
Once you establish a healthy culture among your remote team, turn your attention to the below tactics for leading your remote workforce effectively.

Here are 6 Tactics for Effectively Leading a Remote Workforce

1. Set Clear Expectations

Remote work is usually less structured than non-remote work, therefore clear expectations are critical. Clearly outline the expectations and then offer the necessary autonomy and trust for the team to execute.

  • Mission and vision
  • Yearly, monthly, and weekly goals
  • Hours of operations
  • Available resources and tools
  • Preferred communication methods, channels, and timing
  • Contact info and guidelines for support
  • Project and/or task ownership
  • Team availability (when, where, and how to be reached)

2. Connect Consistently

A lack of consistent connection, can leave remote workers feeling isolated and disconnected from the organization's goals and mission.

  • Schedule routine virtual meetings
  • Designate a specific time (daily, weekly, or monthly) where the entire team is online at the same time allowing for quick collaboration or help if needed
  • Consider an "open status policy" (similar to an "open door policy") where your online status (busy, away, available, etc.) is accurate so that remote workers know when they can connect with you

3. Choose the Right Channel

Today’s workers have gotten fairly good at blending digital and non-digital communications in non-remote working environments. However, in a fully remote working environment, all communications are digital and a new set of rules, know-how, and abilities are needed.
When communicating with remote workers, ensure your intended message aligns with the appropriate channel. Here is a quick overview on how to use today's primary communication channels.

  • Phone: long, detailed, difficult, and/or emotional conversations
  • Email: objective and brief information
  • Chat: informal messages, general announcements, news, quick team collaborating
  • Video (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.): focused, long, feedback-rich, emotional or difficult conversations

4. Communicate Transparently

When communicating with a remote team, transparency is paramount. A remote team is able to be more productive and autonomous when they are well informed. 
To allow a remote team to function smoothly as a single unit, make information transparent from the sense of being easily accessible and readily available by using file-sharing services like Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.

5. Track Proactively

The ability to track and measure progress is empowering to any worker, and it’s no different for remote workers. However, the tools used to track progress for remote teams can be different. Consider time tracking, task management, and/or activity tracking tools to review what the team and individuals are accomplishing.

  • Hubstaff or When I Work are time tracking tools
  • Asana is a cloud-based task and project management tool
  • Monday.com is a work operating system that powers teams to run processes, workflows, and projects in one digital workspace
  • Trello helps to organize and prioritize projects and track progress
  • IDoneThis helps remote workers aggregate their daily activity into a single report

6. Monitor Well-Being

Setting boundaries between personal and work can be challenging for remote workers. The new independence of a remote worker leading to laziness and low performance can be very top of mind for managers.
"The greater danger is for [remote] employees to overwork themselves and burn out. It's the manager's responsibility to guard against this outcome," says David Hansson, New York Times Bestselling author of Remote: Office Not Required, says,  
Help employees take the appropriate time for themselves and maintain work-life balance by utilizing tools like OfficeVibe, CultureAmp, and TINYpulse which can effectively monitor employee morale and engagement.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

Why You Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It

Here’s how to reduce the fear of public speaking as recommended by a professional speaker.
Public speaking continues to be a top fear of humanity. Whether you’re speaking to a group of ten or ten thousand, public speaking is nerve racking. Yet most professionals agree that public speaking is a powerful skill capable of transforming one's business or career. 
As a professional speaker for over eight years, I’ve had experience training small groups of executives, pitching business plans to key stakeholders, and delivering keynote presentations to thousands of people around the world.
The below is my best advice for removing anxiety before any presentation.
But before I share my pro tip, lets better understand why humans fear public speaking so much.
One of the core needs of humans is a sense of belonging. Humans have a deep desire to be accepted, cared for, and involved in meaningful community. Humans are tribal species who live, work, and survive together.
As a survival technique, humans are biologically wired to scan the social group to identify where they stand. 
Let’s take the social group of work as an example. Our brains scan and evaluate if we are in the center of the team as a leader, in the neutral middle, or being pushed out or excluded from the team.
If the early humans who roamed the plains were excluded from their tribe, their chance of survival was minimal. After all these years, humans still avoid exclusion and seek belonging.
When you speak up in a group, pitch a new idea, or deliver a keynote presentation you risk exclusion. Our palms get sweaty before public speaking because we fear being embarrassed or judged for our thoughts, ideas, or suggestions which would ultimately lead to the group rejecting us and pushing us out of the group where survival is limited.
How do you overcome this human hard-wiring and reduce the fear of public speaking?
Uncover the unknowns.
Humans fear what they don’t know. And leading up to a presentation, there are many unknowns.

Here are a few examples of the unknowns that exist for public speakers...

  • Content, structure, and length of the presentation
  • Size and demographics of the audience
  • Size and layout of the presentation room
  • Audio and visual set-up
  • Flow of the agenda
Whether you're conscious of it or not, these unknowns are what contributes to the anxiety felt by public speakers. 
Turn unknowns into knowns and your public speaking anxiety will decrease and confidence will increase.

Here’s how to turn these unknowns into knowns.

Content, structure, and length of the presentation

  • Get to know your audience’s wants and needs and allow those to drive the content of the presentation
    • The more you focus on the audience's needs, the less you're thinking about your own anxiety
  • Get to know your presentation by practicing it out loud
    • Speaking out loud will help you spot weak ideas, irrelevant data/stories, and disjointed transitions
  • Size and demographics of the audience
    • Get to know who will be in the room
      • Conduct interviews with audience members in advance of the presentation or arrive early to interact/observe the audience
  • Size and layout of the presentation room
    • Get to know the presentation room by arriving early and scoping out the environment.
      • Acoustics, size of the presentation screen, restroom location, etc. are helpful for putting public speakers at ease
      • The more you can mimic the live presentation (e.g. being on stage, using a microphone, clicking through the slides, etc.) the more confident you’ll become
  • Audio and visual set-up
    • Get to know the tech that is needed to display your presentation (testing the audio (of your mic or presentation videos) 
      • Ensure your slides are displaying appropriately on the presentation screen
      • Test the audio of your microphone and/or presentation videos
      • Have your presentation backed-up in multiple formats (.pptx, PDF, etc.) in the cloud (Dropbox, Box, etc.) and on a USB drive
        • If you present a lot, consider having adapters that allow you to present from your iPad or iPhone in case your laptop crashes
      • Establishing a relationship with the AV techs (if there are any) is important because they play a crucial part in the success of your presentation
  • Flow of the agenda
    • Get to know what’s happening right before and right after your presentation
      • Have a clear understating of where you need to be and when
      • Ensure you end on time, no audience member ever got angry at a presenter who ended on-time

The unknowns that are possible during a live presentation are countless. However, being proactive about uncovering the bigger unknowns is crucial for reducing the anxiety of public speaking while increasing the likelihood of a successful presentation.

50 Percent of Emails and Texts are Misunderstood. Here’s How to Change That.

4 Reasons to Use More Emojis at Work

1. Emoji acceptance is growing.

An early indicator of how culturally-ingrained emojis had become was in 2015 when the Oxford Dictionaries' “Word of the Year” wasn’t a word but actually the emoji, 😂.

Sixty-one percent of emoji users use emojis at work. Twenty-six million custom emojis have been created in Slack since the “Add Custom Emoji” feature was introduced and “emoji use is basically universal” for the 13 million daily active users of Microsoft's unified communication and collaboration platform, Teams.

We aren’t communicating as well as we think.

Ninety percent of the time people think their emails and texts are understood by recipients, but actually the messages are understood only 50 percent of the time, according to Nick Morgan, author of Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.

For example, according to Morgan, recipients of a two-word email or text such as "nice job" or "great work” interpret the message as sarcastic 60 percent of the time.

Why do people misinterpret so frequently?

Humans have a tendency to assume the worst when the intent of communication isn’t clear. The negative bias that once alerted the brain of cavemen and cavewomen of potential dangers, like bears or alligators, is still very active in the minds of today’s modern workers. 

How do we overcome negative biases hijacking the intended meanings of our communications and ensure our messages aren’t misunderstood 50 percent of the time?

Use emojis.

2. Emojis help clarify emotional intent.

Research indicates that the same part of the brain that processes human faces also processes emojis. When an emoji conveys a human emotion, it can be transferred in a text. Therefore, emojis help communicators manage the emotional tone of digital messages. And emojis help recipients interpret the tone of digital messages.

For example, an “Ok” text from someone can be interpreted as acceptance, apathy, submissive, passive aggressive, or others. But an "Ok 😃” text is easily interpreted as positive acceptance. Adding an emoji removes the emotional ambiguity. Emojis can also create more efficiency by quickly conveying the intent and context that would otherwise be missing in a message.

Unsure what emoji to use for a certain emotion? Use Emojipedia to search emojis by emotions or other categories. 

3. Emojis enhance relationships.

The proper use of emojis help people form relationships and understand one another, according to a recent review of 50 studies on the use and impacts of emojis in communication.

More specifically, when emojis are used at work, the majority of emoji users feel they positively impact likability (78 percent) and credibility (63 percent), and make positive news more sincere (74 percent). And 81 percent of emoji users believe that people who use emojis are friendlier and more approachable. 

In addition, 94 percent of emoji users said the “ability to communicate across language barriers” was the greatest benefit of using emojis.

4. Emojis can close the generational gap.

While using emojis at work is becoming more commonplace, many of the mixed views of emojis can be explained largely by age. In general, the emerging generations (Millennials and Gen Z) place more value on using emojis while established generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers) tend to view emojis as unprofessional and counterproductive.

Professionals over 45 years-old, are more likely to say that emoji use at work is inappropriate versus appropriate. In addition...

  • Only 15 percent think emojis improve workplace communication
  • 29 percent say it makes colleagues look unprofessional; the number jumps to 36 percent when upper management uses them
  • 22 percent say it makes colleagues come across as either annoying, less genuine, or less competent

Conversely, young professionals overwhelming view emojis as appropriate for work. In fact, only 17 percent of young adults consider emoji use unprofessional.

Using emojis with Gen Z is a low risk, high return way to connect with and influence the next-generation workforce.

Here are a few reasons emojis might be the answer to closing the generational gap when communicating with Gen Z.

1. Emojis are native to them.

2. Emojis are “work-appropriate” to them.

3. Emojis elicit truer emotion.

  • 58 percent of Gen Z feel emojis best express their emotions, compared to 48 percent of Millennials, 34 percent of Gen X and 37 percent of Boomers. And 83 percent of Gen Z are more comfortable expressing their emotions through emojis than a phone call, compared to 71 percent of Millennials, 61 percent of Gen X and 53 percent of Baby Boomers.

4. Emojis improve perceptions.

  • When a colleague uses emojis in their communications with Gen Z, Gen Z finds them to be more fun (50 percent), more approachable (43 percent), and kinder (35 percent).

5. Emojis can show support.

6. Emojis allow expression.

Beyond emojis, sending GIFs to Gen Z can provide similar benefits as highlighted above. However, there can be greater risk of misinterpretation with GIFs as certain cultural references depicted in the GIF may not extend across generations. When using a GIF be sure the Gen Z recipient will get the intent behind the reference.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

Why Being Open to How People Work Matters

"People often underestimate the importance of how different our views, perspectives, culture, and our experiences are, but they also underestimate the importance of leveraging those differences and cultural perspectives when driving a business,” says Celeste Warren, VP of Human Resources and Global Diversity and Inclusion at Merck, during my recent interview with her.

"Don’t just tolerate [diversity] but understand it and allow it to drive performance of the organization,” says Warren.

An often underestimated and overlooked way that diversity and inclusion can drive performance, is by supporting different ways of working.

Diverse People Have Diverse Work Styles

By nature, people are diverse. And diverse people have diverse work styles.

"The future of work is about taking risks and sponsoring different ways of working,” says Warren. "Entertain different ways in which people are productive….this seems to be especially true across generations.”

Warren provides the example, “a Generation Xer might not need a lot of feedback and can be more independent in their work, while a Millennial might desire more feedback and have a different style of working."

The goal is to create diverse and inclusive work environments that enable teams to execute with the confidence of a Baby Boomer, the experience of Generation X, the velocity of Millennials, and with the fresh perspective of Generation Z.

In order to effectively lead in today’s fast-paced, highly diverse, and multi-generational workplace, leaders must understand and appreciate each generation’s varying preferences of work environments and work styles.

“Leaders must be more tolerant and understanding across generations…[because] the different vehicles of HR—retaining, attracting and developing employees—are different across generations,” says Warren. "Don’t expect others to work the same way as you work."

Align Work Styles and Needs with Work Environments

Warren encourages inclusive leaders to ask themselves, “How can I meet people where they are so they can really be productive towards the mission of the organization.”

The needs of individuals—single parent, caring for elderly parents, disabled, etc.—have be considered when objectives are set,” says Warren. "We tell managers [at Merck] to set the objective and the timeline and then make the HOW individualized to the need of the individual.” 

How are objectives assigned? How is feedback delivered? How is the individual allowed to work to achieve the objectives? How is the individual supported?

“Diversity and inclusion is about understanding the team as individuals and meeting them where they are,” says Warren. "The support managers give is unique."

Take learning and development for example, in the past traditional training required sitting in a classroom or being alongside a person on the job. “Meet the next generation where they are...How are [leaders] creating an environment that enables Millennials and future generations to be productive and not get stuck in the traditional ways of working,” says Warren.

Learning and development is one of many workplace dynamics that needs to be more inclusive. Training of the past is outdated. It needs to be integrated with how people learn and work, especially considering how different the emerging generations learn. (Read this to learn how to train the next generation at work.)

Warren continues, "Reevaluate your learning and development offerings not by WHAT you’re training but by HOW you're training.”

Twenty-first-century professionals have diverse work styles, organizations must adapt.

Listen to my full interview with Celeste Warren here.

How are You Avoiding Miscommunication Between Generations in the Workplace?

Workplace communications today are a tangled web of varying preferences. Some call, some email, and others text while sitting right next to you.

Evolving technologies have wrecked havoc on our communication choices. There has never been a greater divide between preferred communication channels than there is today. When is face-to-face better than a call, or when is a text better than an email, or when is Slack better than Skype?

The way people communicate varies by generation. According to Gallup, "sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50. More than two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds say they sent and received text messages 'a lot' the previous day, as did nearly half of Americans between 30 and 49. Young Americans are also well above average in their use of email and social media on a daily basis.”

Recent RealityMine research shows similar trends with emailing and calling increasing with age and texting decreasing with age. The data is clear that the younger the individual, the more likely they are to communicate using newer technologies.

With such disparity, how are you to find communication cohesion in today’s multi-generational workplace?


Consider the communication preference of the individual you wish to communicate with and defer to their likely communication preference. We often communicate with others how we prefer to be communicated with, but the countless options for communication that now exist force us to be adaptive. 

Since age has a strong correlation with an individual’s communication preference, it’s useful to use generations as a clue to what form of communication would be most efficient and impactful. 

For example if a Millennial employee was interested in getting in touch with a Baby Boomer manager, the Millennial should consider deferring to a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Or if that Baby Boomer manager wanted to get in touch with the Millennial employee, deferring to a text or instant messaging may prove most effective—certainly not a phone call. Once the connection is made, ask how the individual would prefer to communicate moving forward and then continuously defer to it.

Adjusting our communications for each generation can be exhausting but it’s a new reality we must face. What’s more exhausting is the constant miscommunication that occurs when you try to communicate with everyone based on your specific communication preference. 

This simple strategy will also help generations become more versed in communication skills where they lack. Millennials can become stronger offline communicators and older generations can become stronger digital communicators.

Considering one’s generation, while not fail proof, can be a quick and effective way for deciding what communication method to use.

If you don’t know the generation of the individual you're going to communicate with, default to email. While texting is the dominant communication function on mobile, it can be too personal for a first communication. Email (at the moment) is the most generational neutral form of communication. 

After having a front row seat to today’s communication challenges, I anticipate Generation Z—the post-Millennial generation—will begin to finally streamline the workplace communications as they come of age.

But until then...prefer to defer.