From Boomers To Zoomers: Examining Generational Sensemaking Of New Media At Work Introduced During COVID-19
COVID-19 has triggered rapid digitalization in organizations worldwide. New media at work tools were introduced as companies quickly shifted to remote work. Baby Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial and Generation-Z employees had to use new media at work at short notice. The rapid introduction of new media at work could be problematic for multigenerational organizations, as generational literature suggests older generations face more challenges with technology than younger, tech-savvy generations. However, recent reports conducted during COVID-19 suggest Generation-Zs have been more negatively affected by the use of new media at work. This study investigates how and why different generations of employees have been affected by new media at work introduced during COVID-19. Karl Weick’s (15) sensemaking theory is used as a theoretical lens to examine how different generations of employees make sense of new media at work introduced during COVID-19. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four generations of employees from a Singapore organization. Data was analysed in four levels, using the constant comparative approach. Findings suggest employees from each generation differed in the sensemaking aspects of enactment, selection and retention of new media at work introduced during COVID-19. Baby Boomers were learning to cope with new media at work, Generation-Xs used new media at work to lead others, Millennials used new media at work to be more efficient, and Generation-Zs used new media at work to assimilate with the organization. This study contributes to generational and sensemaking research by suggesting that generational sensemaking of new media at work is influenced by knowledge of new media at work tools, emotions, organizational identities, and new media at work interactions with other generations. This study further expands sensemaking research by proposing a conceptual model of enablers and disablers in the enactment, selection and retention of new media at work introduced during COVID-19.