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How telecommunication change the defenition of work \Telework\


         how modern telecommunication change the definition of work

  In 1876 Alexander G. Bell created  the  thing  that  changed  our  world.
  Changed again…

  And it wasn't the last change in the modern  history.  Later  in  the  XX
  century the modulator-demodulator also known as  modem  was  created  and
  really started the Telecommunications Age. First computers were connected
  together and the Net started growing.

  In the last 20 years the lifestyle changed very much. Cellular phones and
  electronic mail changed the way we  communicate,  satellite  TV  and  WWW
  sites changed the way we get the news and on-line shops and  junk  e-mail
  changed the way we buy products and do our business. Work,  social  life,
  politics  –  the  telecomms  are  coming  everywhere,  bringing  freedom,
  equality and productivity. Now  I  will  try  to  go  deeper  into  these

  Since the end of XIX century, when Marx wrote his famous book, "Capital",
  the economic meaning of work has changed dramatically.  For  Marx  labour
  was nothing more but another resource like capital or land.

  In XX century manager shows a bit more respect to employees. They are now
  individuals, who need to develop themselves and  should  be  treated  and
  motivated in right way.

  XX century brought us a new idea: workers are paid for their time. Later,
  in mid-sixties, it was thought that companies  pay  their  employees  for
  their  skills  and  personal  qualities.  Among  those   qualities   were
  creativity, company loyalty. For those companies that eventually switched
  to new system, it became very  difficult  to  properly  measure  worker's
  contribution to  company's  results.  These  companies  try  to  increase
  workers morale, motivate them, because it is evident:  if  workers  don't
  want to work, they won't work. Or at least, the results will be extremely
  poor. That's why in addition to motivation  by  money,  managers  try  to
  create a feeling  of  mutual  trust,  belonging  to  company  and  common

  What new brings telework to this field? First it is ease of  control  and
  measurement. Results in electronic form can be easily archived,  analysed
  by computers, forwarded for checking and copied.  Next,  all  information
  about time and efforts spent is available. Another thing  is  that  fixed
  time-based salaries are gone. The company will no longer  care  so  about
  who and how much spent on a task. This will become a question of personal
  choice. Now everyone will be given a freedom to decide whether to work or
  to have a rest. This can differentiate  workaholics  from  ordinary  lazy
  people. Right now there are same rules for everybody.  Rarely  a  company
  wants to have a lot of part-time workers.  We  cannot  imagine  a  worker
  coming to factory when he is in the right mood. But with distant jobs you
  can have workers switching every now and then. We can  even  dream  about
  perfect labour  marketplace  with  contracts  signed  electronically  for
  several hours. The psychological  problems  of  switching  jobs  will  be
  minimised. The retirement will no longer mean break of social  relations,
  because they aren't based on physical presence in the company  HQ  or  at
  the factory.

  This  system  of  personal  freedom  have  the  potential  to   eradicate
  unemployment by allowing real-time communications and negotiation between
  employers and employees, leading to equilibrium labor price.

  If you can measure the result of an office work, you can evaluate  if  it
  worth paying the money for result you get. Or  the  jobs  are  completely
  useless and ineffective. This can  lead  to  boost  in  productivity.  In
  telework usually  people  are  paid  for  results,  not  for  time.  This
  motivates them to get better results, thus increasing productivity again!
  On the other hand, regardless of employee's results, the  company  always
  gets what if pays for! Combined efforts of ten people can cost  the  same
  for the company if they have the  same  effect.  And  now  together  with
  perfect labour market we come to what Marx was talking about – labour  is
  just the same as machines or land. The motivation is the problem  of  the
  person himself! And with a freedom of work choice motivation is  not  the
  problem. With telework one can easily apply for the job he likes and  the
  company can review all candidates just comparing  the  results  of  their

  Thanks to the efforts of many people all over the world the Net  commerce
  and work is still not limited as their off-line counterparts. Zero  taxes
  attract more and more of the  trade  turnover.  The  Stock  Exchange  and
  Currency Exchange systems already  inculcated  in  the  telecommunication
  world.    With    decreased    transaction    costs,    development    of
  telecommunications  and  computers  the  efficiency  of  these  financial
  spheres is quickly increasing.

  Electronic auctions have already came to reality. On AOLtm auctions there
  are 600 000 bids in different categories now. Surplus directtm  and  tens
  other electronic auctions are now in the Internet. This  is  a  dream  of
  classic economists – perfect market with all relevant information  freely
  available. With continuous decrease in transportation costs this can make
  every  market  global  and  make  competition   perfect,   stopping   the
  monopolies. One example is Microsofttm. Can we imagine that it  will  not
  succeed in stopping alternative OSes  and  browsers  several  years  ago,
  without   Internet?   Free   communications    greatly    increase    the
  competitiveness of any product. Most on-line shops can offer lower prices
  for all products than their off-line colleagues can.

  Distant work makes sexual and  race  discrimination  very  difficult  and
  almost impossible. How can you behave badly toward your colleague if  you
  only read his e-mails? How the program written by Chinese is  worse  than
  the one written by French? And all harassment will be logged,  documented
  and backed up on a tape drive to be used in the Court.

  Also it will provide new unique opportunities for unable  people.  Nobody
  will knew about his inabilities and nobody will keep him  away  from  the

  But the problem with results measuring still remains. How  can  we  train
  managers and change their minds in order to deal with  telework?  What  I
  think is that all internal relations need to be built on a completely new
  basis. The basis of mutual respect and trust.  How  can  "white  collars"
  remain superior over a worker if they are communicating over the computer
  network? How superiority can survive in the environment where both worker
  and manager have the same access  to  information?  I  am  sure  this  is
  impossible without personal pressure of managers. So,  this  will  surely
  lead to a democratisation in the work.

  Next problem is that telework isn't as universal as  we  want.  It  isn't
  possible for any job: for example, you won't agree with a distant driving
  of your taxi in rush hour. The control  is  necessary  when  human  lives
  depends on the worker. And until we are not sure that communications will
  be 100% error free, we cannot  avoid  physical  presence  of  worker.  An
  example is distant control of an aircraft. Modern aircrafts can take  off
  and land without anybody on board, but human pilots should  be  available
  for emergency case. Several pilots in the airport could work for tens  of
  aircrafts, helping them to take off and land safely, then giving  several
  hours of direct flight to a machine. But  the  storm  can  terminate  the
  communications and lead to human deaths in non-controllable  plane.  This
  shows us how careful we need to be with a new power  that  computers  and
  communications give us.

  In some areas we can't cope without live human being, but… The  situation
  changes. Right now the technologies are available  that  can  change  the
  whole  global  economy.  I  mean  telesales.   This   includes   all   TV
  presentations, on-line stores, direct mailing. There was a  bad  idea  of
  paying too much attention to a customer. In the shop there  is  always  a
  sales manager, available for questions, but most time doing nothing.  And
  he cannot new everything about all the products he is supposed  to  sale.
  The situation is different in a modern on-line store. All the information
  about the product is available in clear form. This can  be  a  multimedia
  presentation, a  chart,  table  or  just  a  plain  text.  If  additional
  information is necessary, then the customer  can  initiate  chat  session
  with a competent person, or ask for an e-mail response. Minimised  costs.
  Maximised convenience.

  Other spheres of physical presence are special services, including police
  and ambulance, rescuers and  fire-fighters.  All  these  jobs  require  a
  trained strong and hardy person, physically presenting on the place.

  Next problem is socialising.  As  we  know,  work  is  one  of  the  most
  important places together with family and school, where socialising goes.
  In some countries this is the main place of social  interaction  and  the
  result work itself plays only secondary role. The contact  is  much  more
  important. In countries with strong traditions of corporativism  this  is
  especially important. The person will be not  able  to  identify  himself
  with appropriate social group.

  Another problem is quite specific, but isn't less serious. Some  American
  physicians believe that obesity is a kind of epidemic in the US!  Imagine
  what  can  happen  with  Americans  if  telecommunication  will   replace
  conventional lifestyle.

  Telecommunications  will  make  high-quality  education  accessible   for
  everybody. The costs for giving a virtual lecture to one student and  one
  thousand of students are equal. This unimaginable scale economy (and as a
  result – marginal costs of zero) will greatly increase educational level.
  The standards will be almost the same in all countries  thus  making  the
  workers  worldwide  more  interchangeable.  This   will   back   up   the
  globalisation  tendency.  And  strong  arising  competition  from   newly
  educated people of third world will increase the desire  to  study  among
  American and European students.

  To sum it up, I believe  that  next  millennium  will  bring  us  to  new
  horizons of social, political and economical interaction in  the  virtual
  world of modern telecommunicating. This tool offers us not only hope  for
  economic prosperity but also a possibility to  participate  more  in  the
  community activities and decision-making in the  political  system.  This
  even makes possible the direct democracy, which was left in the times  of
  ancient Athens. Created by the scientists  –  the  most  intelligent  and
  advanced part of our society, Internet offers equality, freedom of speech
  and unique possibilities for self-realisation.











                             The concept of work

                                The drawbacks

                                 Telework –

                                 a new hope



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