‘I hate printers’– Gen Z’s baffled by office tech

Online community platform Reddit hosts many forums in which internet users who identify as millennials or Gen Z confess to being baffled by these machines emblematic of office life.

Members of Generation Z (Gen Z) were born into a world where the internet already existed; indeed a large number of them spend most of their time behind a screen. But that doesn’t mean they’re confident about their workplace IT skills.

Far from it, in fact!

If young people are often described as “digital natives,” their IT abilities are not necessarily adapted to the requirements of the business world. Indeed, many companies and administrations use computer equipment older than some of their employees on a daily basis. 


Take printers and photocopiers, for example. Although the digital revolution and environmental awareness are pushing us toward a paperless world, the corporate world hasn’t completely given up on paperwork.

In fact, an average office employee generates some 2 pounds of paper waste every day and uses around 10,000 copy sheets. Some unscrupulously print multi-page PDF documents, emails or online articles for better reading comfort. 

That is if they know how to do it. Online community platform Reddit hosts many forums in which internet users who identify as millennials or Generational Z (Gen Z) confess to being baffled by these machines emblematic of office life.

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“Millennial here, worked in IT all my life, can confirm I bloody hate printers!” says one of them. Another added, “Millennial here. I once had a job interview where I was asked “What is your least favourite aspect of IT?”

“Printers,” I told them without hesitation. Everybody chuckled.”In fact, Reddit users assert that all office workers have a genuine hatred of photocopiers and scanners, regardless of age. But younger workers are less confident than their older colleagues about their ability to cope if they encounter a computer problem.

For example, one in five young employees feels judged by their colleagues when faced with a technical difficulty at work, whether it’s an internet connection problem or a bug during a video conference meeting, according to a 2022 survey by HP.

In comparison, only one in 25 older employees feel this way in such a situation.  

Freeing oneself from “tech shame”

The American computer and printer manufacturer has coined the term “tech shame” to describe this phenomenon, which seems to affect mostly young workers. One factor contributing to this phenomenon is that the digital skills of young people are often overestimated by employers.

Although avid internet users, millennials and members of Generation Z (Gen Z) mainly use just a few social networks and apps. Beyond that, obstacles arise. Many young workers feel uncomfortable using office-oriented software programs like Excel or PowerPoint in their professional lives — even if they claim to be proficient in them on their resumes. 

As a result, they head to Google and social networks to fill in the gaps. In particular, they turn to explanatory videos created by internet users who present themselves as Excel or PowerPoint experts. Emma Chieppor, a 25-year-old American, is one of these experts.

She started posting Excel tutorials on the TikTok account @exceldictionary in May 2021 to share her knowledge of the subject with as many people as possible. And it seems to be working as the young woman counts more than 2.2 million followers on TikTok.

And she is not the only one: the hashtag #Excel has 5.8 billion views on the Chinese application, while there are 3.4 billion views for #PowerPoint. 

@exceldictionary Who knew all three?! #excel #spreadsheet #tiktoktaughtme #exceltips ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus

While these videos are an attempt to address the lack of computer literacy among some working people, many individuals believe the responsibility lies with governments and businesses.

Some 44% of 18-26-year-olds believe that governments and employers should join forces to give everyone a chance to master digital tools, according to a recent Dell Technologies survey. Regardless, young people seem determined to tackle this issue head-on to improve their employability.

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More than a third of Gen Zers plan to learn more about computers on their own, in a bid to free themselves from “tech shame.”

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