From the islands of Scotland, where craft workers receive
knitting patterns from companies over ISDN lines, to call centre
workers on business parks, to employees of the high tech
companies in "Silicon Fen" in Cambridgeshire, the
world of work is changing through the use of information and
Many jobs are disappearing while others are being
transformed. For example:
One of the key differences about new types of work is that in
principle much of it is location independent. There are many
examples of call centre operators working in distributed
locations, including at home (e.g. for BT or the AA) or having
networks of call centres, even networked between different
countries (e.g. British Airways).
Using ICT is transforming the majority of "white
collar" work, with managers and professionals having to
master keyboard skills and (at least) basic IT, doing many of
the tasks that would formerly have been delegated to typist and
Much of this work too, involving the handling of information,
can in principle be location independent provided one has access
to the necessary ICT.
The role of the secretary is also becoming more multiskilled,
often requiring IT skills such as desktop publishing skills,
knowledge of spreadsheets and databases, Internet awareness as
well as word processing. And expertise in working over
electronic networks is vital for the person co-ordinating the
schedules of distributed workers.
The old models of work organisation no longer apply. However,
the extent to which archaic and expensive forms of work
organisation persist and are justified by managers and workers
reluctant to change is surprising.
Apart from the savings in office costs, reduction of travel
costs and increases in productivity, the key advantage in new
ways of working lie in the flexibilities that they introduce,
which benefit both employer and employee.