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Computers in the Workplace I. The Nature of Work. Computers in the Workplace I. "Our Mission" To demystify 'hype' etc. To separate social from technical issues. To get some idea (however small) of policy implications. What would you do or not do? -. Computers in the Workplace I.

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Computers in the workplace i

Computers in the Workplace I

The Nature of Work


Computers in the workplace i1

Computers in the Workplace I

"Our Mission"

To demystify 'hype' etc.

To separate social from technical issues.

To get some idea (however small) of policy implications.

What would you do or not do?

-


Computers in the workplace i2

Computers in the Workplace I

Some Issues

(tinael)

Levels of employment and unemployment.

Telecommuting and homeworking.

Changes in power structures.

Deskilling

-


The nature of work some technical issues
The Nature of WorkSome Technical Issues

Automation

1. This is not new:

1940s - 1970s - assembly lines.

1970s - microchips replace relays.

1980s - integration of manufacturing processes, robot arms, guided vehicles etc.

2. Widely seen as a way to greater safety and reliability

Driver-less trains

Pilots as EPs

Computerization of Banking Services


Automation advantages
AutomationAdvantages

(tinael)

  • More reliable and consistent.

  • Lower production costs.

  • 24 hour, 365 day production.

  • No Health and Safety requirements.

  • Robots can work in hazardous conditions.

  • Humans relieved of boring and dangerous work.

  • Remaining workers can be made more skilled.


Automation disadvantages
AutomationDisadvantages

(tinael)

  • Spiraling job losses.

  • Remaining operators may be deskilled.

  • Work loses meaning for many workers.

  • Because the remaining operators no longer understand the system, they cannot intervene in a crisis.

  • Complex systems may be poorly understood, brittle, and hard to maintain.

  • We do not yet know much about integrating humans into large-scale automated systems.


Some social and ethical issues
Some Social and Ethical Issues

  • Unemployment - many people very worried.

  • Deskilling - a real problem.

  • Loss of human interactions and social networks in the workplace.

  • Risk of large-scale accidents.

  • Many people feel that the machines are 'out of control'.

  • The few people who control large-scale systems, particularly information systems, are acquiring far more power over almost all other people.

  • Where do you fit into these changes?


Levels of employment
Levels of Employment

Writers in this area have identified several possibilities

(tinael):-

1.Transitional Phase:-

  • Unemployment in the short term, but new jobs emerge which compensate. Kondratief cycle.

    2. No Effect:-

  • IT, computers, etc. do not put anybody out of work. They produce higher productivity and increased output = increased income = increased happiness.

    3. Permanent Reduction in Labour required:-

  • Reduced hours for all, more leisure.

  • Some people never work.

  • Policy changes needed?


Deskilling
Deskilling

  • Surprisingly, perhaps, humans are often employed to sweep up, pack boxes, and so on in highly-automated factories.

  • One noticeable trend has been for human jobs to become increasingly low-skilled - the opposite of predictions of robots taking over the boring and monotonous work.

  • There are financial pressures for employers to do this - it may well continue.

  • It is probably not good for society as a whole - do you care? - who should do something about it?


Changes in patterns of work homeworking and telecommuting
Changes in patterns of workHomeworking and Telecommuting

Technically possible now for many workers because:-

  • PCs, modems, LANs, WANs, www, email, and videolinks all available at reasonable cost.

  • Low and reducing 'physical' content of work.

  • These trends look set to continue.

  • There is great pressure to reduce the environmental costs of physical travel.


Changes in patterns of work homeworking and telecommuting1
Changes in patterns of workHomeworking and Telecommuting

But:-

  • Telecommuting and homeworking is much rarer than most writers predicted.

  • It is often unpopular with workers.

    Why?


Changes in patterns of work homeworking and telecommuting2
Changes in patterns of workHomeworking and Telecommuting

Some Possibilities

  • Some people are not psychologically suited to homeworking.

  • Management structures, performance measures, promotion patterns etc. have not evolved to keep up with the technology.

  • Most people's homes are just not designed or suitable for work.

  • Technologies not yet good or cheap enough.

  • Forrester T. 'The Myth of the Electronic Cottage', in Forrester (ed) Computers in the Human Context.


Changes in patterns of work homeworking and telecommuting3
Changes in patterns of workHomeworking and Telecommuting

  • But:-

  • Improvements in technology during the 00s.

  • A new generation on the job market.

  • Will you work from home?;''


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