Telecommuting 2000

Working in the Information Age


New jobs, new ways of working

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 communication technologies.

Many jobs are disappearing while others are being transformed. For example:

Old job

New job

Insurance agent Call centre operator
Filing clerk Database operator
Night watchman CCTV monitor

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 secretaries.

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.

 

 

 

"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"

 

 

 

 

"..archaic and expensive forms of work organisation persist and are justified by managers and workers reluctant to change"

 

 

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