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Am I The Only Boomer Who Hates This ?
Old 01-06-2017, 09:02 AM   #1
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Am I The Only Boomer Who Hates This ?

Greetings,

New member here, with retirement (early, I will be 62 1/2) so close I can taste it (plans are to leave in May 2017).
After 20 years in my original career (plastics engineering) and 21 in Information Technology, and having started work in the ancient "Bi-Centennial Year of 1976" - I have had it with work !

Being a Boomer myself, I am getting more and more cynical and a bit fed up working in the wonderful world of Information Technology. About 90% of the developers, testers and software folks are Millennials. So are my 3 grown children, whom my wife and I truly adore - but don't necessarily agree with all of their opinions and views.

Here is my problem - I find it fairly weird to see the standard "office environment" degrade (my opinion) into relative anarchy, with managers and administration seeming to cater to the young people in many ways, not the least of which are - lax work hour rules; permissive rule about dress code, work hours, office etiquette, etc. Seems to me that when I was young, adults ruled the world, and when I got "old", young people rule the world.

My Question: Am I nuts to think this is going in the wrong direction, showing my age, or just a cranky old guy?

Your input is appreciated. PS - I bet our parents felt the same way in 1976 about us !!!
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:10 AM   #2
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Welcome. And I think you are perceptive. The cultural shifts that are going on are "huge"; and not just in the workplace. I try not to focus on them or I'll drive myself crazy.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:15 AM   #3
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One might conclude that those companies are competing to attract the new (and only available) employees, and that's what the employees want.

Not that its a sustainable solution, but it is what it is! Just a thought.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:24 AM   #4
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Yes, you are just a cranky old guy.

Just kidding. I'm only 4 years behind you and I have the same perception. How did our generation get cheated out of our turn to rule?

Welcome and congratulations on RE soon. I hope the time between now and May goes quickly for you.


P.S. OTOH, I confess I find it hard to find fault with lax dress codes. Not only am I a naturally informal person (i.e., "slob"), I w*rk in a messy chemical plant where if you wear expensive clothes you ruin expensive clothes. Much better to ruin jeans I can get at Costco for 14 bucks.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by mcbraemer View Post
Here is my problem - I find it fairly weird to see the standard "office environment" degrade (my opinion) into relative anarchy, with managers and administration seeming to cater to the young people in many ways, not the lease of which are - lax work hour rules; permissive rule about dress code, work hours, office etiquette, etc. Seems to me that when I was young, adults ruled the world, and when I got "old", young people rule the world.

Your input is appreciated. PS - I bet our parents felt the same way in 1976 about us !!!
It seems typical that every generation rebels against its elders to some extent, and that most elders don't approve. Right or wrong, most people resist change, especially with age - though most elders don't realize it in my experience (and stridently insist otherwise).

Your last sentence is probably right. While you may not approve of Millenials lifestyles, I suspect the elders from the 70's approved even less of Hippies. And I suspect they felt they no longer "ruled the world" (your description). While we weren't all hippies, our generation was influenced by their movement and others. Just as Millenials seems to be laying waste to conformity from your perspective, hippies started that ball rolling. [Ironically hippies grew into Boomers, an argument can be made that we made things (much) worse as adults than our youthful idealism might have promised - but that's another well worn thread. Maybe Boomers, former Hippies, have little room to criticize?].

All the above can be written about Bohemians, swing kids, flappers, beatniks, hippies, freaks, punks, mods, new romantics, generation X, emo, hipsters, millennials, etc.

As for the breakdown of the workplace environment as you describe. If the purpose of work is to increase productivity and offer more valuable competitive products and services, the rules you describe above may be beside the point. That's not all bad IMO. I don't miss the days when we all wore suits to work. I don't miss the days where everyone smoked at work, and you were "out" if you didn't. I don't miss the days when women and minorities were openly treated as second class citizens. I don't miss the days when promotions were awarded based on seniority over merit, and certain groups were excluded regardless. The decrease in stay-at-home-Moms has necessarily altered the workplace. Technology has/is radically changing the workplace - we can often work together without physically being together - work hours aren't as necessary, neither are dress codes. I could go on and on.

Change is good, though it's two steps forward, one step back in the long term. We may go astray with change in the short term, but so far we seem to get it right long term. I hope that hasn't changed.

Sorry if this isn't what you hoped to hear...just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:44 AM   #6
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Thanks Mdlerth - I did 20 years in the chemical industry - and wore a SUIT to the plant my first 2 weeks of work, thinking I was now here to save the world, and a professional. After getting Mobiltherm oil sprayed up and down my pant leg during week 2, the suit went in the trash, and I wore more appropriate clothes !
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:48 AM   #7
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It seems typical that every generation rebels against its elders to some extent, and that most elders don't approve. Right or wrong, most people resist change, especially with age - though most elders don't realize it in my experience (and insist otherwise).

Your last sentence is probably right. While you may not approve of Millenials lifestyles, I suspect the elders from the 70's approved even less of Hippies. And I suspect they felt they no longer ruled the world (your description). While we weren't all hippies, our generation was influenced by their movement and others. Just as Millenials seems to be laying waste to conformity, hippies started that ball rolling. [Ironically hippies grew into Boomers, an argument can be made that we made things (much) worse as adults than our youthful idealism might have promised - but that's another well worn thread.]

As for the breakdown of the workplace environment as you describe. If the purpose of work is to increase productivity and offer more valuable competitive products and services, the rules you describe above may be beside the point. That's not all bad IMO. I don't miss the days when we all wore suits to work. I don't miss the days when women and minorities were openly treated as second class citizens. I don't miss the days when promotions were awarded based on seniority over merit, and certain groups were excluded regardless. The decrease in stay-at-home-Moms has necessarily altered the workplace. Technology has/is radically changing the workplace - we can often work together without physically being together - work hours aren't as necessary, neither are dress codes. I could go on and on.

Change is good, though it's two steps forward, one step back in the long term. We may go astray with change in the short term, but so far we seem to get it right long term. I hope that hasn't changed.

My 2 cents...
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:49 AM   #8
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I started work in 1975 and I welcomed telecommuting and business casual. I worked for a sub of Prudential in Newark, NJ from 1985-1995 and they NEVER closed due to snow. They did send us home early on a day we never should have had to come into the office. I got home at 8 PM. Telecommuting and flexible hours are a blessing.

That said- you still need to put demands on people and hold them to standards. In my last job I worked with a ton of smart, motivated, hard-working people in their 20s and 30s. I was instrumental in firing one who wasn't performing and morale got infinitely better. OTOH, a friend who's maybe 10 years younger went to a job where he was fired after a short time for expecting the younger people to actually work. He's now at my last employer, where he should find the work ethic he's looking for.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:52 AM   #9
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They stepped on your lawn again, eh?
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:53 AM   #10
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Wow! You hit a nerve.

Here's the thing, most of it doesn't bother me. I embrace it. I like going to work in shorts and ripped t-shirts. Yes, I started with suitcoat and tie in my early engineering days.

I do not like the "drag in at 1PM" thing.

And mostly, I don't like the: "Oh, here's a Millennial, let's ask them, they have the answers" attitude. It is crazy.

The ageism in IT borders on disgusting.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:59 AM   #11
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LOL funny thread! I'm winding down my 30 plus year IT career and see all the kids. I've adapted to casual dress and like it. Also enjoy working remotely but with my current position I'm NOT available off hours and will NOT be on-call. Those days are done.

What I notice about the new young kids is that they are incredibly glued to their smart phones. It's almost as if they are unable to talk face to face and their social skills are very lacking. I remember being the youngest at work, for what felt like years, and got ahead by forging friendships with my elders on the job. That doesn't happen at all now.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:02 AM   #12
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I'm 55 ...but don't think this is enough to make a difference. Most of my career (job life) I wore jeans and t-shirt (using with something on it). But my last jobs were with start ups. This had a lot of the younger set. I really had no issue working with them. Being in start ups kept pressure to get things done. But the atmosphere was a bit different. I worked remote a lot.. but then I had my own "differences". Before that I had done somewhat larger corporate companies. I liked the smaller newer environment.
I too was/am an engineer. I changed areas a few times, but never really to IT. I was more often designing from the ground up (chip level to systems... including soft/firmware). I just rolled with the changes.
Don't get me wrong, there are some things that I just don't get. I'd rather hike a mountain than stand in a park milling about trying to catch a Pokemon character. I also don't understand being with a group of friends and everyone is talking or texting to others who aren't there. So... there are some things I just don't get
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:03 AM   #13
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Having worn a suit to an IT job for many years, I'm very happy with the more casual dress requirements. What bothers me is the new focus on collaboration such that no workspace is quiet and all projects "collaborate" by wasting most of their time talking about what they plan to do instead of doing it. Everything takes twice as long to accomplish and is rarely tested, so there is lots of re-work (now glorified by the name refactoring) required.

The idea of flexible work hours is great and I've seen it work to good advantage by folks who like to arrive at 6AM and leave at 3PM while their colleagues arrive at 10AM and leave at 7PM. Lately this has shifted so many arrive at 10AM and leave at 4PM, which just makes me think the work ethic is eroded or maybe people have just figured out a way to abuse a lax system. Some days I am first in AND last out of the office. I think they think I'm some kind of freak who works all the time, which may be part of why they keep me around when everyone else is in their 20's.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:10 AM   #14
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lax work hour rules; permissive rule about dress code, work hours, office etiquette, etc
As someone turning 40 next month, and still working, here's my take on those specific issues.

Working hours:

First off, I think there are many good reasons to have specific working hours. Personnel need to take over for other people so that a position can remain manned (such as power plant operators etc). Work must be supervised and/or done in a group so all personnel must be available/working at the same time. Work is done directly with customers that need to be able to interact with or otherwise dependon the the employees doing their jobs during known time-periods (such as cashiers, cooks, waiters etc).

Then again though, many jobs have no need to be done at a certain time, place, etc, and having "working hours" for them is just an arbitrary rule with little or no benefit. I spend approximately 0 hours in any normal week working "with other people" in any capacity. When or where I do my job has no impact on the work or client satisfaction except for known exceptions (such as when I visit my clients to get information or deliver products etc). The rest of the time, I could be sitting in our company offices or on the beach in Aruba and it would have no impact on the client's satisfaction or the work done. So why do I not do more work from Aruba? Because some people haven't figured out that working hours are pointless for many jobs these days and the only thing they accomplish for jobs such as mine is to reduce quality of life and happiness from the workers. Oh, and the President of my company thinks we "look good" to clients so we need to be available in case there's a surprise new client he wants to walk around the offices (never happened without notice, but whatever).

So, in summary, many position have no need to have set working hours and they serve no purpose, so why keep strict working hours for such positions when you can have happier employees instead (and many studies such as this one have proven that happier employees produce better and/or more production for their employers).

Dress code - Again, with the exception of employees directly working with customers, what purpose does a restrictive dress code serve? Does a man in a suit type or make decisions any better than the same guy in more comfortable clothes? Does wearing a blouse instead of a t-shirt make the women in our accounting office forget how to do the books? Nope, I'm pretty sure that changing outfits does not reduce anyone's ability to do their job effectively. It can improve their happiness, which as already mentioned has been proven to be better for employers.

I'm not sure what "office etiquette" you refer to as even in my somewhat lax office, I'm not aware of any rude behavior etc that would be considered acceptable, so I won't bother discussing that one.

And that takes us back to working hours, that I've already covered.

So, in summary, I'll say that many of the "rules" exist for no good reason and can actually be harmful to employee happiness and quality of life, which in turn is damaging to the employer's business in reduced productivity. It costs nothing to say "you can wear business casual instead of a suit" or "people not working with customers don't have to abide by a strict dress code" or "you can work flexible hours" yet can cause measurable benefits/gains for employers and improve employee loyalty (Google doesn't have significant attrition and the "benefits" they provide which boost employee happiness is a large reason for that). As such, when it costs nothing and doesn't hurt business, why would any reasonable management want to avoid improving their employee's productivity, reducing turnover rates, and making their employees happier? "That's not how I'm used to things being" is a pretty poor argument against bettering a company imo, and it's really the only argument I've heard against such changes.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:20 AM   #15
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Seems to me that when I was young, adults ruled the world, and when I got "old", young people rule the world.

My Question: Am I nuts to think this is going in the wrong direction, showing my age, or just a cranky old guy?
I agree completely, not just about your job but about the world in general!

When I was a kid (I'm 68), young people were supposed to be respectful of their elders, too. Where on earth did that go?

Maybe I'm nuts, showing my age, or just a cranky old gal.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:23 AM   #16
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I never had to wear a suit, but always dressed decent. Took my work clothes to the cleaners to get that nice pressed shirt look. Sometimes wore a blue blazer if I had a lunch meeting. Not long ago I dropped by my old employer and the guy that replaced me had jeans on with shirt hanging out. Also had a ball cap on. I know things have become more relaxed, but I'm surprised he gets away with it.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:33 AM   #17
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I have to agree with much of what the OP said. While I never complain about modern lax dress codes or flexible work schedules, I have seen the office begin catering to the younger employees. I've actually seen people a year or two out of school refuse to do some menial task (taking notes in a meeting, running a few copies for the boss, etc.) because it was "beneath them." And they get away with it. I had to do crap like that for years, and now I still do.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:56 AM   #18
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I guess the old saying "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" has a different, ahem, "wrinkle" nowadays.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:11 AM   #19
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People have been complaining about "the younger generation" without fail throughout history. Writings date back at least to the time of Socrates. No, the world isn't going to hello in a hand-basket, if mankind's history serves as any guide. IMO, the boomer generation really needs to get out of the way. And I am a boomer.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:12 AM   #20
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I am mixed about this. I am an MD, so the culture is very different than IT. I think the culture in IT is a bit different than elsewhere.

My thoughts:

1. Dress code:

This varies based on location and local culture. In the early 70s in SF sandals were common amongst the residents, and some even tried bare feet.. That didn't last long. During my residency in the late 80s, we were casual, comfortable, no white coat. My Silicon Valley group practice featured traditional doctor wear, and I felt compelled to wear skirts for 10 years, but that also changed in the late 90sIn semi-rural central PA, I've seem everything from full suits (administration), high heels and form fitting skirts (25-40 yr female fashionistas), to shorts and sandals in the summer (one OB doc making weekend rounds, and he's at least 60). It gave me the freedom to dress for work as I needed to do the job. I really like that; wish I could have made rounds in sweats though..never did though.. I like the change to casual.

2. When the millennials in IT hit their mid 40s, most of them will realize they were fools not to respect the experience of their older colleagues. Then the IT work culture will change again.

3. In medicine, the saying went in the 70s and 80s that you want a young doctor and an old lawyer. But that is not the reality. Much of the newfangled stuff in medicine applies to certain specialties but bread and butter medicine hasn't changed much. My diagnostic, procedural, physical exam skills, as well as my teaching and people skills continued to improve over time. As a result I was afforded a lot of respect. The younger docs tend to poo poo the physical exam and rely on technology. It is to the detriment of all of us that that is occurring.
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