What changes do you anticipate over the next 10 years? How can you prepare to manage in a ‘flat
world’, a term used by Thomas Friedman to describe today’s business environment? Illustrate
with examples from at least two topics covered in the unit.
Topics are as follows:
Topic 1: Human Resource Management
Topic 2: The environment of management
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As the world is becoming small due to developments in information technology, airline sector, automobile sector, engineering sector, the type of work required by the clients are also evolving. Thus now companies has re-engineered their work styles, work place culture and the skills required to perform work in order to meet the changing needs of these clients. Here we would analyse the changes in the past 10 years which has taken place in the work in organizations and the future changes that is expected.
Ways in which organisations, jobs and careers have changed over the past 10 years.
The changes that have taken place in the job sector and career in the past 10 year period can be summarized as follows:
Work can be done outside of office as well-Nowadays the organizations provide employees flexible work schedules in order to make them more satisfied at job (Parsells, 2013). Organizations now consider that employees have a family, personal life which they need to give time in order to live happily. For this various option like work from home, early log-in early log-out are provided to the employees.
Workplace is less structured and defined- There is a big revolution in the way the offices are now designed and strutted. Today’s new office spaces are more open space where employees can work with one another (Edmunds, Hurst and Harvey, 2013). Other facilities at work like meditation room, feeding room for nursing mothers, games room, gym, etc. are provided for the welfare of the employees.
Software related to facility management have evolved over time- Various tools of facilities management are now being used by organizations. These tools are now more sophisticated and capable of achieving the objectives. The latest software can handle large data, perform the analysis and evaluate the finding which was previously not possible (Lustig, 2011). This has led to reduction in the number of employees required by organizations to meet its objectives.
The jobs are now based on different shifts- Nowadays the same space is used by the organizations for the employees to work in two shifts. As multinational organizations needs to cater to the needs of the clients, they need to work 24 hours on all 7 days a week (Sonnenwald, 1995). With the 24 hour shift, the same desk is used for two employees. Thus the physical space required to handle manpower is decreasing.
Use of artificial Intelligence- The use of automation systems is increasing in the organization for performing various activities (Juricek, 2014). It is expected to reach a situation where the work of manpower will become very limited and most of the work will be done by robots in the company. Even in day to day activities we see the work being done by automated machines Polat, Bal and Jansen, 2017). Like for example we pay for the groceries just by scanning the item and we pay most of the bills on the screen. Even ideas of self-driving cars is being experimented in many parts of the world.
With such innovations, the type of skills required for the employees is changing. Companies are looking for increasing productivity for which adoption of machines become very convenient (Retirement Age: Preferences of Employees Representing Various Age Groups, 2017). This replaces the human labour and only highly skilled experts are required for complex decision making. The use of automation system in organizations and day to day activities is increasing at an increasing rate.
Use of human cloud- Cloud computing is one of the growing area which is helping make business simpler. It has evolved the way organizations work by making the employees work from remote locations, and can share files and data (Holt and Brockett, 2012). Large number of freelancers are appointed to work on demand which work for a specific period on a specific task. There are many platforms available online which create a perfect match between the freelancers and job providers.
Some of these technologies currently used is the GPS tracking system used by delivery companies to trace their delivery man. At many places, earpieces are used to communicate orders to the production department to implement the strategy of just-in-time production. Other uses are also increasing as the technology is evolving (User continuance intention to use cloud storage service, 2015).
No formal retirement- As with the discoveries of new medicine and health plans, the life-expectancy of the people are increasing. With this also increase the capability of the individuals to work productively even beyond the age of 60 or 70 year. Many high positions are held by the people in this age group and entitled with great responsibilities (Chima, 1999). This demographic shift has broken the past trend of a particular retirement age and the workers can work till they are of value to the organization.
How can you prepare to manage in a ‘flat world’, a term used by Thomas Friedman to describe today’s business environment?
Thomas L Friedman analysed globalization in the 21st century and viewed world as a level playing field. In such place, all the competitors had equal opportunities with the emerging abilities of the individuals (Friedman, 2005). He listed a series of ten ‘flatteners’ which was responsible for creating a ‘flat world’. He also stated that in order to deal with this new dimensions of flat world, the companies should evolve the work skills required to perform job (Sato and Murayama, 2008). Some of the ways to manage today’s changing business environment are as follows:
More adaptation of the workforce- The employees should adapt easily and learn new skills in order to remain worthy to an organization (Mosley and Friedman, 2006). Flexibility to work in new environment and learn new business skills would ensure they remain employable.
Becoming an expert- In order to deal with the changing work environment, individuals should gain sufficient knowledge in a particular field so that they are experts (When employers want flexibility, it is at the expense of employees, 2013). This include taking profession like scientists, engineers, architectures, mathematicians, etc. This expertise knowledge would help them serve the organizations in problem solving (Hetzner, Heid and Gruber, 2015).
Less dependent on employer- The employees can also prepare themselves for the flat world by being less dependent on the current employer for all the financial needs. The employees should be in a position to switch jobs easily when they are not satisfied with the current working environment. They should also learn to invest in capital market to earn a return. These would help employees to deal with the changing market condition of work environment.
Self-evaluation- The employees should look to work for companies which lead to the overall growth. There are companies which train employees and enhance their skills which increases their chances of being employable in future Clark, 2015). There are also organizations who does not look for development of their employees and just employ who is suitable for the job.
Today’s business environment is characterised by characteristics of a ‘flat world’, the term as used by Thomas Friedman. When Friedman analysed the impact of globalization, he saw the trends which created the toady’s business trends:
Outsourcing- Todays businesses outsource the tasks in which it does not have specialised expertise (Flexibility Helps Employees to Do Their Jobs Better, 2012). Hence instead of creating an in-house team and managing, some part of business activities are outsourced to entities who can complete it at lower costs (Bauer and Gruber, 2007). This has become a fundamental aspect of every business and is supported by the force of globalization.
Technological evolution- There has been a considerable change in way the technology is improving. The growth rate of technology is far more than that could have been imagined in the past (Dr. R. Hemanalini, 2011). Countries around the world is making huge investments in technology and gradually it is taking over the most of the daily activities of both individuals and for organisations (Liu et al., 2009).
Liberalization- The force of liberalization due to which the trade barriers between the countries have been minimized, has led to growth of business worldwide. With friendlier terms of trade, companies are now sourcing raw materials from place where it is most cheaply available and finding customers all over the globe (Schindler, 2007).
Competition- The increase in the number of companies in every sector of the economy has led to a competitive environment (Celebrate the Flat World!, 2006). Thus companies are struggling to establish a market share by providing goods and services at the minimum costs. This motive has led companies to look for lower the cost of production by adopting technologies. Employees with low skill are now not required by the companies. The market forces of demand and supply play a vital role in deciding the prices of the products.
This view presented by Friedman has also been critically reviewed by some analysts. For example John Gray, a professor at the London School of Economics (The Contemporary Society, Changes in the Job World – Challenges for the Future, 2012). He reviewed that as suggested by Friedman that the world is becoming more connected, it is also true that the ‘World is becoming more free and peaceful’.
The above two aspects show the changes in the work and the workplace environment that has evolved in the past ten years and the future changes that is expected. It is found from the above analysis that now the workplace is more flexible to provide options to its employees to work from different locations. They also provide time flexibility in order to suit the needs of the employees. Nowadays companies look for overall development of the employees and provide trainings to increase their productivity.
Also in future it is expected that technology would play a vital role in performing most of the works in organization. Hence man force would only be required to take important decisions. Further with the improvement in the quality of life the skills possessed by the employees would also be used after the retirement age. Hence there would be no formal retirement. The concept of ‘flat world’ further defines the workplace environment and nature of work required in a globalised world.
Friedman, T. (2005). The world is flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.