Discussion: Pre-industrial Societies

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Discussion: Pre-industrial Societies

Discussion: Pre-industrial Societies

technology’s role in alternative work arrangements, “Technology drives workplace flexibility. . . . Technology has become a strategic competency that drives revenue growth. It’s not just about enabling productivity.”3

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How has BlueWork impacted the staff? In addition to the productivity improvements and savings in office expense, overall employee satisfaction is up. American Express managers are happy with these arrangements too. They have found employees to be more engaged while working, more committed to the company, and better able to drive needed results.4 American Express has clearly adopted one of the most accommodating approaches to work hours, but many employers allow their employees some flexibility in their work schedule. A third or more of IBM, Aetna, and AT&T employees have no official desks at the company. Communications giant Cisco, which has over 75,000 employees on six continents, uses technology‐enabled flexible work practices such as telecommuting, remote work, and flex time.5 Sun Microsystems Inc. calculates that it has saved over $400 million in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of its employees to work anywhere they want.6 Even the U.S. Government has a flexible work program, Flexiwork, that enables eligible employees to do their job under alternative work arrangements such as work from home.7

The American Express example illustrates how the nature of work has changed—and information technology is supporting, if not propelling, the changes. In preindustrial societies, work was seamlessly interwoven into everyday life. Activities all revolved around nature’s cyclical rhythms (i.e., the season, day, and night; the pangs of hunger) and the necessities of living. The Industrial Revolution changed this. With the practice of dividing time into mea- surable, homogeneous units for which they could be paid, people started to separate work from other spheres of life. Their workday was distinguished from family, community, and leisure time by punching a time clock or responding to the blast of a factory whistle. Work was also separated into space as well as time as people went to a particular place to work.8

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