Young Workers Scared by Technology

Or maybe “technology”?

Jack Herlocker
Crow’s Feet
Published in
3 min readFeb 28


Image generated by the author using DALL-E: “Young office workers gathered around a laser printer looking confused in realistic style.”

If you have a question about how some machine around the office works, you ask the youngest coworker you can find, right? Because kids these days, they understand all that tech stuff, right?

Um…depends on the tech stuff, alas.

Twenty-somethings (“Gen Z”) entering the workplace are finding strange, complicated, and highly counterintuitive devices in the office. Things with strange names, like “copiers,” “printers,” “scanners,” and “desktop PCs.”

Workers just out of school know all about computers since they have been using them all their lives. So they put in a day’s work on their desktop (The monitor is separate from the keyboard, but no problem — their mom had a home office where she plugged a monitor into her laptop. Same thing, basically.), then turn it off before they leave by… um…

“Hey, how do I turn off this computer?”

“What?! You don’t know how to turn off a computer?”

“Yes, I know how, I just close the cover and the computer turns off. Or goes to sleep, or whatever. The point is, there’s no cover! Wait, there’s an on/off switch! Never mind, I got it!”

(One company’s IT group has put tape over the on/off switches on their desktop computers to keep Gen Z users from killing the power instead of shutting them down. Too many incidents. Which, oddly enough, reminded me of office microcomputers in the 1980s, when coworkers used to dumb terminals would switch off the IBM PCs through force of habit.)

Copiers are magic. Evil magic. One poor fellow kept creating blank copy after blank copy before finally trying the original face down on the scanning surface.

And then there’s the horror of fax machines…Yes, some offices still use fax machines, because a faxed signature is considered “genuine” while a scanned signature — or even a photo of a document taken with a phone—is not. To be honest, I’m not sure even Gen X is old enough to know how to use a fax machine. And the office manager who complained about sending too many faxes “because it cuts into our paper budget,” was a boomer, many years back. (Yes, he thought when we sent a fax that our paper came out the other end. No, it wasn’t my job to explain it.)

To be fair, as The Guardian article points out, the younger generation is not actually “tech savvy,” they are phone savvy. They are accustomed to learning apps designed to be “intuitive” to people familiar with touch screens and built-in cameras, not people who grew up with hard copies of documents and sending things through the mail physically.

On the plus side, they also grew up without manuals, so learning by experimentation is natural. Eventually, they figure stuff out.

And if not, they can go looking for some old folks who know how this ancient technology is supposed to work!



Jack Herlocker
Crow’s Feet

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.