Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Tag Archives: information age

The Office: The Future’s Green, and Orange for Uncertain

Professor Colin Jones provides excellent historical background and synopsis of the various forces behind the move towards a more flexible approach to office work. As he points out, there is no end in sight when it comes to widespread resistance to this new way of working. However, there are definitely some clear benefits to organizations that manage to take full advantage of information communication technology. Moreover, to the degree that commuting and expansion of office buildings is curtailed, the more potential benefit to the environment will be realized. Some commentary on potential long-term changes with regard to the office market is also provided in this post.

Social Policy, Housing, and Equality Research blog

The office has perhaps always been around as a place of work and administration, whether it be in a Roman palace, a room in a sixteenth century merchant’s house or purpose built buildings from the mid-nineteenth century. And in some ways today’s office is not that different from one in ancient Greece.  There is the fundamental need for a desk and a chair.  But over the last forty years information communication technology (ICT) has transformed how we use an office.  Images of an office with desks piled high with files stuffed with papers and banks of filing cabinets are not perhaps quite yet in the dustbin of history but are not as prevalent as they were even a decade ago. The ‘paperless office’ once seen as a goal to aim for is here today, it just crept up on us (although I still have an untidy desk). The next decade…

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The Happy Workplace: Reflection on a Presentation about Zappos’ Company Culture

A couple of days ago I attended a presentation by Zappos’ CEO, James Key Lim, in Sacramento, California. Lim spent an hour talking about the decision to turn things around at Zappos several years ago by developing and prioritizing a strong work culture of happiness that values transparency, trust, social connections, and fun (e.g., they have toys and games at work). Company culture is the #1 concern there as Lim emphasized over and over again. Unfortunately I didn’t hear or even find anything later about their take on job design and person-job fit as I hoped, however the Zappos philosophy on hiring as well as information on the hiring process itself can be found on YouTube. Read more of this post

A Less Mentioned Benefit of Telework: Why Pet Owners & Animal Lovers Should Be All Over This

There are a number of benefits to teleworking that may already be familiar to you because they are reiterated time and time again. However, I will quickly summarize them for those who are new to this subject matter:

For employees who can telework and work well this way:

  • Can save thousands of dollars annually that would otherwise go towards gas and office clothes
  • Improves work-life balance by freeing up 1-2 hours (or more for those who commute even further) so that employees have the option to get right to work instead of wasting time in rush hour traffic as well as being able to get necessary errands done without a hassle (e.g., picking up kids from daycare/school)
  • Under a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) where work can be done anywhere, anytime as long as the work is done on time, employees can lead a healthier lifestyle by not having to stay sedentary for 8-10 hour time blocks (includes commute time).

For employers:

  • Reduces real estate costs (for the physical space itself as well as additional costs of maintenance and utilities)
  • A more decentralized workforce allows business to continue during emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.
  • Employees who are well-suited to telework are more engaged and productive working from wherever they want, instead of at the office, which adds to the bottom line
  • When recruiting, employers can hire the best people for the job regardless of their geographic location
  • Having this option for employees enjoy more freedom and flexibility at work improves recruitment and retention, reducing the cost of turnover

For environmental conditions:

  • Less congestion for those who must travel to work as well as reduces wear and tear on deteriorating freeway infrastructure from having so many people utlizing it during rush hour
  • Although there’s some debate over whether or not teleworking employees make up for not having to commute to an office by driving elsewhere, a reduced need to build additional office building space and expand freeways does mean a decreased carbon footprint
  • The more we can curtail the growth of our freeways and buildings as our population grows, the more space we leave for wildlife Read more of this post

The Information Age: An Anthology on Its Impact and Consequences

The 1997 edition of The Information Age: An Anthology on Its Impact and Consequences, edited by David S. Alberts and Daniel S. Papp, was made available in pdf format and downloadable for free online. Click here to attain a copy. Updated editions (for 2004 and 2012) are available, however I wanted to check this copy out first and compare it to more recent editions later. As it turns out, I think that the information and predictions in the 1997 edition are still relevant and do a great job of explaining the Information Age’s impact on the way we work and live, job market trends, and how societal institutions will be shaped. This anthology is jam-packed full of interesting information, but I’ve elected to focus on the interesting forecasts made in the first part of this book. Read more of this post

The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All

Julie Clow’s The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All is an engaging and practical guide written for organizational leaders and thinkers interested in the issue of optimizing organizational structure and culture to suit business needs in the Information Age. Towards the beginning of the book, she provides a comprehensive self-assessment quiz that covers various facets of the organization’s philosophy, the rules, leadership, team and coworkers, and the leader’s role. A chart is provided to record scores and the rating criteria is clear-cut, showing specific areas of strengths and weaknesses. The remainder of the book expands upon the subject matter covered in the quiz providing suggestions for improvement in the process. Read more of this post

Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century

By William A. Draves and Julie Coates, Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century opens up with some historical overview about the transition from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age in the United States and compares this to the transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The authors aptly noted cultural resistance to new technology and transitions in work systems both at the turn of the 1800s and at the time of the writing of their book. In doing so they present interesting and entertaining side stories such as L. Frank Baum‘s writing of The Wizard of Oz to convey pro-Agrarian values and resistance to encroaching Industrialization. Read more of this post

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