Podcast 42: What have the generations in work been doing in lockdown?

Welcome to a Question of Gamification! Today’s question is, “what have your people been doing in lockdown?”

We will take a look at how much they’ve been spending their time on various tools and media, based on the global web index. We will look at where have your people hung out and you know, we’ll use a few statistical research tools that have given us different insights.

Generations at work

But, we also look at it from a generational perspective. First things first, and… what have they been doing on mass? Well, in April, they were mainly still searching for Coronavirus updates. People were looking for, rule changes, etc. The biggest group active in doing that were the millennials, followed closely by Generation X. Generation X are those aged in the mid-thirties to mid-forties, some even end of the forties. And then, boomers are the generation that follows in age group the 55 plussers.  Millennials are aged between 25 to 35 more or less and Gen Z are classed those younger than 25 better.

The generation as defined by Global Web Index in their research:

  • Gen Z – 16-23 years-old
  • Gen Y (Millennials) – 24-37 years-old
  • Gen X – 38-56 years-old
  • Baby boomers – 57-64 years-old

If we look at, the various generations, they had one consistency, all of those actively in work were looking for Coronavirus updates and following the statistics and probably reading some of the news. Then, after that, actually, the divide becomes more interesting.

Listening to music online was very much a Gen Z sport, as in, the youngest of the generations in work would have spent 70% of their time engaging with music. Then, you know, for millennials that drops down to about 60% for Gen X 50% and for the baby boomers down to about 40%. It had a gliding scale backwards. Watching movies was the highest for millennials, watching funny videos, the highest for GenZ, so the younger ones.  And then playing games actually came in a solid fourth place across ALL age groups.  Now give it 10 years ago, that was not the case, so playing games on mobile playing games on laptops, if you combine the two, they were actually one of the top activities for Generation Z, a generation of millennials, and even 30% of Gen X and baby boomers are 30/35% of those were engaged in playing games, either online, or mobile or on a PC or laptops.

Top online consumption (based on figures from April 2020 from Global Web Index)

  1. Coronavirus news and updates (68%)
  2. listening to music (58%),
  3. watching movies/shows (49%),
  4. watching funny videos (42%),
  5. playing games on mobile (40%), and
  6. looking at memes (32%)

Unless you are a Gen Z native in which case the list was something more like this:

  • Listening to music (71%)
  • Looking for memes (54%)
  • Looking at funny videos (52%)

So, there’s quite an interesting divide. Now. Some of the other things people have done is reading business articles, looking for cooking recipes, looking for discounts, healthy eating, sports news, celebrity news. And then it goes all the way down to, well, beyond 10th place before people actually engage in learning activities like podcasts, live blogs and webinars are way down.

They weren’t consuming educational content

If you were thinking, and a lot of my audience is in the learning space, so I would have expected it to be higher. If you’re thinking that your people have been diligently learning and consuming content, think again! Most likely there will have been listening to music or listening to something, watching movies or videos, looking at memes or playing games. I’m thrilled to say that games are up there.

Games enable connection and achievement

Now, this was a global web index report dating back to April. Haven’t yet seen the figures for May and June, but my thinking is that, this may not be vastly different. When I look at, the increase in consumer behaviour, even in just the UK, analysed by, Statista and others, we see a, like a similar pattern emerge where games are increasingly high up the list and across the four generations. The four generations that we still find in the workplace. So, it’s interesting to see the biggest uptake of games is obviously with the younger two of the groups.

Anyone up to 35 and a bit, definitely engages in games quite a bit, from 60 to 70% in some cases. Then for the older groups that drops a bit to about 30-40%. But think of this, they’ve been choosing to spend their own free time in such a way.

Now you are asking them to engage with one-way traffic systems! If you’ve listened to the previous episode of a question of gamification on being all Zoomed out on this podcast, then you know my views on this, one-way traffic is not a typical thing that people would love.

People listen to music for a variety of reasons, for example, to cheer them up but to also have some background noise whilst they’re still working. When they’re not working, they are choosing activities that they have two-way feedback with again, achieve things in.  Because the feedback we normally get from the world of work, where a manager will tell you if something was done well, a client will give you feedback…you know, you may have to rework certain things ‘cause they weren’t quite up to what people were looking for, so, you know, the variation of, of what people do and look for is no different in, let’s say, a remote working world, as it is in a face to face working world.

If you take away the face to face interactions, which we had to learn to do on mass, by force thanks to most of our governments, you basically take away a lot of that two-way information, feedback, and connection. And people looked at games for their sense of connection. People looked at funny videos too, to create a feeling of joy, to have that bit of an uplift.

Should games have a permanent place even in work?

There is a pattern there that I think is important to be mindful of. And also to be aware of when people are going back to the world of regular work, is: can games find a place in your regular workplace? Because people got used to playing them in lockdown, so why not continue that trend? And yes, I will say I have a vested interest in saying this because obviously, we create serious games and we create gamified solutions. So yes, I’m not a hundred percent neutral on this. Then the data, I look at, are neutral in the sense that it tells us what people are actually choosing to do that as their fourth-biggest activity online in the lockdown. It tells you something.

We can’t continue to ignore it in favour of one-way traffic tools, which were our place 10 and beyond for people’s consumption of learning information.  I just wanted to put that out there. If you look at the various data, see the infographic below created by Visual Capitalist. You can see what have people been doing, where have they been spending their time.

What does that mean for your organisation?

I would even go as far as asking those questions when people come back to work. Or even before, while if you remain working, mostly remotely, is to actively look for ways to create two-way interaction streams. Work at creating moments of connection, with connection being something where feelings are expressed and expressed, in its full range of feelings. Because I also believe that after a long period of lockdown, people hold on to emotions to cope and get through it and come out to the other side. But that also means that those feelings still have to go places.

People may have experienced losses of their people.  People may have experienced losses of all sorts, income, obviously freedoms. There will be an explosion of the opposites, and feelings need to go places. It’s, it’s how nature works. It’s how our bodies process stuff. So I think it will be very important in a post lockdown work reality is to create moments of reflection, moments of just deep talk, deep conversation and allowing safe spaces for that. Because thinking that the manager can take this on, that’s a big ask because they may have experienced exactly the same. I would even say, create a safe space with access to professional people who know what to do and know how to handle grief, grief in all of its forms.

What started as a lighthearted way of looking at what a few people been doing in lockdown across the generations, has become quite deep, quite quickly.  I think that was maybe even a sign of reflection here on my part as well, coming out of lockdown and not being able to travel to where my clients are, where my people are. There’s a sense of unexpected new realities, not knowing what to do, what to expect, who will be back, who may not be back, will the company survive, will it not? There are many, many questions. So, my guess is that, if you can provide two-way systems that provide support that provides, the possibility to connect for fun, but also for,  the deeper stuff and you look at how you can engage your people. So you can move forward, so that they can come out of it, whole again, in a new way of being whole, maybe, because there might still be glaring gaps of missing people, glaring gaps or missing something that used to be there.

If you look at communication tools and what people have used, I can guarantee you it’s probably not what you would have thought, it’s probably more likely to be the more entertaining stuff that people have been looking for in lockdown.

I hope this is meaningful to you. Please do comments if it is and do challenge me if it isn’t.

And I look forward to talking to you in our next episode.

Great infographic based on Global Web Index research we mentioned from Visual Capitalist

covid-19 media consumption by generation

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