Companies now have access to so much cheap, reliable computing power, they have changed the way they are organised and the way they operate. As a result, many people’s jobs have changed.
Areas of Decreased Employment
Some jobs have been lost as a result of computers being used to do the same work that people used to do.
Some examples of areas have suffered job losses:
Many factories now have fully automated production lines. Instead of using people to build things, computer-controlled robots are used.
Robots can run day and night, never needing a break, and don’t need to be paid! (Although the robots cost a lot to purchase, in the long-term the factory saves money.)
- Secretarial Work
Offices used to employee many secretaries to produce the documents required for the business to run.
Now people have personal computers, they tend to type and print their own documents.
- Accounting Clerks
Companies once had large departments full of people whose job it was to do calculations (e.g. profit, loss, billing, etc.)
A personal computer running a spreadsheet can now do the same work.
It used to take a team of highly skilled printers to typeset (layout) a newspaper page and to then print thousands of newspapers.
The same task can now be performed far more quickly using computers with DTP software and computer-controlled printing presses.
Areas of Increased Employment
Although many employment areas have suffered job losses, other areas have grown and jobs have been created.
Sometimes people who have lost their old job have been able to re-train and get a new job in one of these growth areas.
Some examples of areas where jobs have been created:
- IT Technicians
All of the computers in a business need to be maintained: hardware fixed, software installed, etc. IT technicians do this work.
- Computer Programmers
All of the software that is now used by businesses has to be created by computer programmers.
Hundreds of thousands of people are now employed in the ‘software industry‘
- Web Designers
Much of modern business is conducted on-line, and company websites are very important.
Company websites need to be designed and built which is the role of web designers.
- Help-Desk Staff
People often need help using computers, and software applications.
Computer and Software Company have help-desks staffed by trained operators who can give advice.
Others include delivery drivers in retail stores.
Effects of IT on working patterns within organisations
The advent of IT has introduced or facilitated significant changes in working patterns. Some more flexible working arrangements include:
Part-Time: Part-time working has become more common recently, it allows employers to meet their staffing needs more precisely and allows employees choice about when they work. Part-Time can be defined in lots of different ways, # days per week or mornings only or # hours per day are common choices.
Flexible hours: Is a process that allows employees some control in the hours that they work. The rules are set by the employer, giving the employees some flexibility to decide when they start and end the working day and also when they take breaks. Within such a system there is often the option to accumulate extra hours worked in order to flex a day off (at a time agreed with management). For a slightly more detailed description
Job-Sharing: Two people agree to share a job, in essence they are agreeing to both work part-time, but between them they will complete the work of a full-time employee.
Job sharing can apply to quite senior or responsible positions, the key requirement is that the role can be split so it can effectively be carried out by the two people involved.
Compressed Hours: Where an employee would like an extra day off each week, for example three day weekends, they may agree an arrangement with their employer whereby they work for longer hours on days they work in return for the extra day off.
Working from Home: As the name suggests the employee agrees to work from home some days.
The role of IT in facilitating more flexible working arrangements include:
- Options for monitoring when employees are at work
- Options for allowing employees flexible access to the place of work
- Good communications so it is not so critical everyone is present at the workplace at the same time
- Options for monitoring work
An example where more flexible working arrangements can be beneficial is where the employee can greatly reduce travel or commute times by selecting when they travel – usually be travelling to avoid peak periods.
Not everyone can benefit from flexible working hours, the potential impact on work and other employees has to be carefully considered.