Discussion: Types of Work IT

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Discussion: Types of Work IT

Discussion: Types of Work IT

Where will the work be performed? With the increasing availability of networks, Web tools, apps, mobile devices, cloud‐based computing, and the Internet in general, managers can now design work for employees who come to the office or who work remotely. Does the work need to be performed locally at a company office? Can it be done remotely at home? On the road?

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• When will the work be performed? Traditionally, work was done during “normal business hours,” which meant 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In many parts of the world, a job between the hours of 9 and 5 is an anomaly. Tech- nologies also make it easier to work whenever necessary. The reality of modern technologies is that they often tether employees to a schedule of 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7) when they are always accessible to calls or other communications through their mobile devices.

• How can the acceptance of IT‐induced change be increased? In this text, the overarching questions are how to leverage IT to help improve work and how to keep IT from inhibiting work. Sometimes this means automating certain tasks. For example, computers are much better at keeping track of inventory, calculating compensation, and many other repetitious tasks that are opportunities for human error. On the other hand, technologies provide increasing support for tasks at which humans excel, such as decision making, com- munication, and collaboration tasks among employees. Using a structured change management approach to manage IT‐induced change will increase the probability of success.

11 William Bridges, JobShift: How to Prosper in a Workplace without Jobs (New York: Addison‐Wesley, 1995). 12 Ibid.

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78 Digital Systems and the Design of Work

Figure 4.1 shows how these questions can be used in a framework to incorporate technologies into the design of work. Although it is outside the scope of this chapter to discuss the current research on either work or job design, you are encouraged to read these rich literatures.

How Information Technology Changes the Nature of Work Advances in IT provide an expanding set of tools that make individual employees more productive and broaden their capabilities. They transform the way work is performed—and the nature of the work itself. This section exam- ines three ways in which new IT alters employee life: by creating new types of work, by enabling new ways to do traditional work, and by supporting new ways to manage people.

Creating New Types of Work IT often leads to the creation of new jobs or redefines existing ones. The high‐tech field has emerged in its entirety over the past 60 years and has created a wide range of positions in the IT sector, such as programmers, analysts, managers, hardware assemblers, Web site designers, software sales personnel, social media specialists, and consul- tants. A study based on the Bureau of Labor statistics places the number of IT employees in the United States at an all‐time high of 4.9 million.13 Even within traditional non‐IT organizations, the growing reliance on IS creates new types of jobs, such as data scientists who mine for insights in the company’s data, community managers who man- age the firm’s online communities, and communications managers who manage the use of communication technol- ogies for the business. IS departments also employ individuals who help create and manage the technologies, such


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