The Twenty-First-Century Workplace: Seven Major Changes
Predictions about everything under the sun are plentiful with the new millennium at hand. Our immediate concern is how the workplace will change as the twenty-first century unfolds. After all, the workplace is where you will spend half (or more) of your nonsleep life in the years to come. Management consultant and futurist Robert Barner foresees seven major changes that promise to challenge managers and employees. As a departure point for this chapter, let us highlight each Barner’s major workplace changes. 1. The virtual organisation. Thanks to modem telecommunications and computer network technology, centralized workplaces where employees gather each workday for face-to-face interaction are being dispersed. Yes, many people will continue to commute to factories and offices. But many more will set up shop wherever they are - on a plane, at home, in a customer’s office, or in a moving vehicle - and communicate with their co-workers via cellular phones, wireless e-mail, fax machines, and potential digital assistants. Virtual organisations will be faster and more flexible. Meanwhile, they will present managers with new challenges regarding information overload, organisation structure, teamwork, communication, decision making, and career development. Barner notes: “To meet these challenges, workers will need to develop skills in network based decision making, including the use of such specialized tools as group-decision-support software”. 2. The just- in- time workforce. The trends towards using part-time or temporary workers and outsourcing organisational tasks and functions to other companies will pick up speed. But how can part-time employees be motivated to do their best and be committed employees? Human resource practices such as hiring, training, and compensation will need to be refined. 3. The ascendancy of knowledge workers. We are moving from an industrial Economy to an information...
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