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The changing world of work

At the turning of the 21st century, the world of work has seen a number of changes which have had the net effect of transforming the work environment, culture and practices. Many of the changes have been credited to the technological advancements the global world has come to know.

Coupled with these have been the changing demographics of the workforce, where a younger generation of workers is entering.

The educated, talented and skilled young people are seemingly on a mission to transform the world by way of the new ideas and the innovativeness they bring. This requires that employers, similar to the young workers, prepare themselves for the inevitable changes that will and are occurring from time to time.

With the digital age upon us, there is a demand by companies to employ individuals who are skilled and versed in the technologies. With this being the case, it is to be expected the office setting, as we traditionally know it, may undergo radical change. To begin with, there is the move to have a paperless environment. This means some employees can now enjoy the luxury of working from home, using their computers, laptops and/or smartphones.

This development also brings with it a measure of flexibility for employees who can, to some extent, exercise some control over their work time. This represents a shift from the routine eight-hour regulated workday. It however places a greater measure of responsibility and discipline on the individual employee.

Whereas employers embrace this new trend, they would nonetheless share some concern about the employee’s productivity. Whilst making substantial financial savings on operational or office expenses, which may be a prime factor that drives employers to engage this new way of life, they must however be mindful of the shortcomings that accompany workplace flexibility.

A more fundamental problem for employers can be linked to the engagement of workers on contract. The fact that employees do not enjoy security of tenure and are more or less self-employed can lead to them using the flexibility they have to take on more than one assignment at a time. This can however have dual consequences.

On the one hand, it can reduce employee loyalty to the employer and, secondly, if not properly managed, impact on the quality of work and the timeliness in the delivery of service to the employer and/or client by the employee.

Work flexibility as a feature of the workplace is unique in the sense that it has a bearing on work life balance.
It offers the opportunity for additional quality family time. It affords employees some time for their personal lives and interests.

With the supposed interest of young workers in exploring new opportunities, there is the likelihood they will not remain in one job for a lifetime. The high turnover of staff is not to be ruled out, as these young and engaging minds look for new and enterprising work experiences. The traditional job for life is therefore not a part of the new thinking.

This brings us to the idea of self-employment. With the contraction in the job market and the fact the global economic recession is not contributing to the development of new jobs, there is the basis for the growth of entrepreneurship. This provides a platform for young persons to make a name for themselves in the world of world.

This is a positive as it provides the basis for small business development and opportunities for employment of other young workers.

(Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.  Visit the www.regionalmanagement Send your comments to     

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