Connected humans in the current age of technology and web connection have created a new assemblage of networked workers that are changing the way in which organizations run. Still, networked workers of today bring both opportunities and challenges to the organizations they serve. Virtual communication, artificial intelligence, and robotics have advanced the proficiency of organizations, and have served as technology mediums that offer workers access to knowledge and an opportunity to connect with anybody (Jarache, 2013).
Opportunities that networked workers bring to an organization:
- Networked workers can work remotely and thrive from collaboration between workers. The connection that workers make with other contributors results in work that can be accomplished with little supervision and without the need for a boss, thus reducing transaction costs (Jarache, 2013).
- Networked workers can save organizations money. A survey conducted by the Telework Research Network revealed that networked workers offer organizations increased productivity that equates to a national average of $270 billion dollars’ worth of work. In addition, employees who spend half their time in the office and the other half connected virtually have the potential to save companies over $500 billion dollars per year because it creates a saving in business related costs such as electricity, absenteeism, and turnover (Bednarz, 2013). Moreover, worker appreciate telecommuting to the point that in a survey conducted by Dive.com, IT professionals reported that they would be willing to give up ten percent of their salary in exchange for a full-time telecommuting position, thus saving an organization money (Bednarz, 2013).
- Networked workers have a greater capacity for information sharing. Because the web allows data, that was once difficult to manage and store, to be easily retrieved; networked workers can access information and share knowledge in the most efficient and expeditious way, thus increasing the creativity yielded from human connection (Weinberger, 2011).
While a networked workforce presents many opportunities for organizations, challenges related to a networked workforce remain. The literature offers diverse perspectives as to what the exact major challenges are for some organizations, but opinions vary greatly (Bednarz, 2013). Based upon the readings for this week, it appears that many of the challenges that organizations face surrounding a networked workforce are related to employee performance and the availability of jobs (Bednarz, 2013; Smith & Anderson, 2014).
Challenges associated with network workers:
- Networked workers tend to lie. A study conducted by Robert Feldman found that workers who telecommute had a greater propensity to lie about work performance (Bednarz, 2013). In addition, many workers who telecommute fail to work a full eight-hour day (Bednarz, 2013). This conception affirms a challenge of a networked workforce is accountability and trustworthiness. While this may be cited as a challenge; I question why work for those who telecommute is not simply judged on work performance and outcomes; over time worked?
- Loss of jobs. A key finding of research conducted by Smith and Anderson (2014) revealed the great divide that exists related to how AI and robotics impacts the workforce. Many believe that networked workforces that are reliant upon the web and technology impact both blue collar and white collar employees and will result in a loss of jobs. The eminent threat of technology is the innovation that technology brings a displacement of workers in exchange for highly skilled workers (Smith & Anderson, 2014). The contrasting opinion to this argument is that the loss of jobs will be replaced by the creation of newly created jobs.
- Income quality. Smith and Anderson (2014) claims that the increase in displaced workers related to networked workforces will also result in an increase in income inequality. The research suggests that many of the jobs that will be created to support advancements in technology will not be accompanied by wages that support families and the middle class will suffer.
Innovation comes from networked workers because they can communicate and collaborate without boundaries, and thus generates more thought and knowledge. Undoubtedly, networked workforces bring opportunities for organizations, but are attached some serious challenges.
Bednarz, A. (2013, Feb. 28). Is Yahoo’s telework ban shortsighted or savvy? Data says both. NETWORKWORLD. Retrieved from http://www.networkworld.com/article/2163977/smb/is-yahoo-s-telework-ban-shortsighted-or-savvy–data-says-both.html
Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/
Smith A., & Anderson J. (2014, August 6). A1, robotics, and the future of jobs. PewResearchCenter: Internet, Science and Tech. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs/
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.