A number of contemporary issues in the design of work have emerged in the recent past. The issues include telecommunicating, alternative work pattern, technostress, task revision, knowledge work and BPRE. Firms use these to the design of work as ways to manage growing business, while contributing to a better balance of work and family life of employees.
Telecommunicating: One of the recent changes and potentially the most far reaching is telecommunicating. Two of every three Fortune 500 companies now use telecommucating. It is the use microcomputers, networks and other communication technology such as fax machines to do work from home, which was traditionally done in the workplace. The employee has no contract with other employees, but is able to communicate with them using electronic means. A variant of communicating is the virtual office, where employees are in the field selling or serving customers. They will not have seen or be seen by a boss, as is the case with sales-force of HUL. For sales people of HUL, village roadsides are offices. Periodically they keep e-mailing or faxing how many crates of tooth paste or soaps they have sold.
Telecommunicating is a rapidly growing alternative to the traditional office bound work style. Significant benefits are being reported from telecommunicating. By supplementing its traditional offices, AT & T for example, has saved $550 million by eliminating officers no more required, consolidating others and reducing related overhead costs.
However, there are problems associated with telecommunicating. These include the loss of creativity, as employees are not interacting with other employees on a regular basis, the difficulty of developing appraisal systems to appraise teleworkers, and the need to formulate an appropriate technology strategy for allocating the necessary equipment.
Alternative work pattern: Job sharing is an example of alternative work pattern. It involves two people sharing a full-time job. It can be implemented in several ways:
- Each working a half-days, five days a week.
- Each working two of three full days a week.
- Each working every other week.
- Each working alternative months or seasons.
Companies that use job sharing are primarily in the legal, advertising and financial services sectors. Sons, no longer want to work full-time. The problem of maternity leave can almost be eliminated. It is also suited to the needs of older employees who want to phase into retirement by shortening their working days. Job sharing can also limit layoffs during hard economic times. Absenteeism is much less as employees can avoid the leisure time during the week to attend to their personal needs.
However, job sharing goes against the concepts of employer-employee relationship. Traditionally, a single job I held by one employee and it sounds rather strange that one post is sharing by two individual. A scumming it is in place, the employer faces the problem of pro-rating remuneration and administering benefits between two part-time employees.
Techno Stress: Techno stress is stress caused by new and advancing technologies in the workplace, mostly by information technology, for example, the widespread use of electronic bulletin boards as a forum
for rumors of layoffs may cause feelings of uncertainly and anxiety. However the same boards can be an important source of information for workers.
Advanced information technologies enable organizations to monitors employee performance, even when the worker is not aware of such arrangement. These new technologies also allow organizations to tie pay to performance because performance is electronically monitored.
Task Revision: A new concept in the design of work is task revision. Task revision is an innovative way to modify an incorrectly specified role or job. Task revision assumes that organizational role and jib expectations any have been correctly or incorrectly defined. Where the role is correctly defined, behavior of the employee fits the role performance tends to be high. Performance suffers because of deviant behaviors which result from incorrectly defined jobs. Task revision helps correct such incorrectly defined jobs.
Knowledge Work: The emergence of knowledge work has transformed the ways designing works. As of now, work is no longer about the mass production of tangible commodities but is concerned with the firm’s intangible assets, human brains. The nature of knowledge work is fundamentally different from what we have traditionally associated with the ‘machine age’ and mass production and marketing.
Business Process Re-engineering ( BPRE ): One major development in organizational design in the recent past is BPSE. The BPSE management declares that organizational structure and the way I which work is structured need to be radically changed so that re-engineered company can become adaptable and from the traditional one.