The San Francisco 49ers have embraced the mentality of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." That's why you'll find their team offices functioning a little more like a Silicon Valley startup.
As reported by Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal, the 49ers have made key changes to their work environment all aimed to appeal to their younger players, many of whom are of a generation that is constantly connected to technology.
It might sound like the 49ers are giving up -- functioning as the weary parents who simply don't want to fight anymore.
The reality is much different: 49ers coach Jim Tomsula is using research from Stanford to optimize the work environment for his players.
According to that research, the 49ers work climate now involves "phone check" breaks every 30 minutes. Beyond half an hour, the study argues, millennials are too distracted and aren't learning information as well.
"The [experts] are telling me about attention spans and optimal learning," Tomsula told the WSJ. "I'm thinking, 'My gosh, we sit in two-hour meetings. You are telling me after 27 minutes no one's getting anything?'"
A relaxed cell phone policy is just one of several changes, each of them designed to accommodate multi-tasking and shorter attention spans.
Players are also getting to use enhanced digital playbooks, and weekly social media briefings are designed to help players better manage their social media presence.
It's a smart move for a team whose average player age is 25.2, and it also represents a massive departure from the traditional way of doing things in the NFL.
But so far, 49ers coaches are seeing positives -- players aren't just happier and more focused, but the increased use of technology is providing valuable visual learning opportunities.
"Our whole lives, we've gone with a paper and pad," says Tomsula. "Next week, a young person's phone will be outdated. We decided we have to be on top of that."