Work in the Digital Era

Digital working arrangements are becoming increasingly common in everyday life. It’s no secret that the planet is becoming increasingly interconnected with recent digital innovations changing the way we work. Companies and employees alike are seeing the value in flexible working arrangements facilitated by digital technologies. In this blog, we take a closer look at flexible, digital working arrangements.

Reflecting on his time as President in the post-cold-war era, Bill Clinton remarked in 2002 that few people in the early 1990s fully appreciated the technological and information shifts occurring throughout the globe. “When I took the oath of office as President on January 20th, 1993”, he said, “there were only 50 sites on the World Wide Web. When I left office, there were over 350 million and rising. Today, there are probably somewhere around 500 million”. Fast forward to 2017 and there are over 1 billion websites out there.

Digital working arrangements

This new digital era has brought with it new opportunities for innovative working arrangements. As many tasks can now be performed over the Internet and monitored by employers using project management tools, trends such as “telecommuting”, “remote work” and “job sharing” are on the rise.

  • Telecommuting – using mobile telecommunications technologies such as the Internet, laptops and smartphones to work outside of the office for part of the week, whilst being at the office for the remainder of the week.
  • Remote work – using these same mobile telecommunications technologies to work entirely outside of a traditional office environment. Remote workers can perform their tasks from anywhere with an Internet connection.
  • Job sharing – having two part-time employees performing tasks which would traditionally be a single full-time job. The emergence of innovative apps which “match” prospective job-sharers based on skills, experience and availability, who then apply for jobs as a team, is likely to fuel this trend even further.

One company at the forefront of these kinds of flexible working arrangements is Dell. As part of their “Legacy of Good 2020” plan, Dells aims to have half of its global workforce on flexible working arrangements by 2020. The company sees achieving this goal as crucial to remaining competitive as well as attracting and retaining talented people. Their cultural shift is best summed up with the phrase: “do your best work in the way which works best for you”.

Digital nomads

Digital working arrangements aren’t just for traditional company employees. A growing number of freelancers are using their technological expertise to work from anywhere in the world. These “digital nomads” are able to earn their incomes online as they travel to different exotic locations across the globe.

These digital working arrangements seem to be the way of the future. Indeed, when we looked at the history work, I was writing from Sri Lanka. This week, it’s sunny Australia. Digital working arrangements undoubtedly bring many benefits to some employees and employers alike, they also bring with them their own unique sets of challenges. Time differences and the occasional internet connectivity problems are issues faced by many. For many, it is just as challenging to get out of the traditional mindset of “the workplace”. In the next instalment of this blog series, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of digital working arrangements.