Contemporary Issues in job Design

A number of contemporary issues in the design of work have emerged in the recent past. The issues include telecommuting, alternative work pattern, techno stress, task revision and skill development. Firms use these approaches to the design of work as ways to manage growing business, while contributing to a better balance of work and family life of employees.

1. Telecommuting: One of the recent changes and potentially the most far-reaching is telecommuting. Two of every three Fortune 500 companies now use telecommuting. It is the use of microcomputers, networks and other communication technology such as fax machines to do work from home, which was traditionally done in the workplace. The employee has no contact with other employees, but is able to communicate with them using electronic means: A variant of telecommuting is the virtual office, where employees are in the field selling or serving customers.

2. Alternative work pattern: Job sharing is an example of alternative work pattern. It involves two people sharing a full time job. It can be implemented in several ways:
• Each working a half day, five days a week.
• Each working two or three hill days a week
• Each working every other week
• Each working alternate months or seasons.
Companies that use job sharing are primarily in the legal, advertising and financial services sectors.

One advantage of job sharing is that it enables a firm to retain valued employees who, for personal reasons, no longer want to work hill time. The problem of maternity leave can almost be eliminated. It is also suited to the needs of older employees who want to phase into retirement by shortening their working days. Job sharing can also limit layoffs during hard economic times. Absenteeism is much less as employees can avoid the leisure time during the week to attend to their personal needs.

However, job sharing goes against the concept of employer employee relationship. Traditionally, a single job is held by one employee and it sounds rather strange that one post is shared by two individuals.

Assuming it is in place, the employer faces the problem of pro rating remuneration and administering benefits between tow part time employees.

3. Techno stress: Techno stress is stress caused by new and advancing technologies in the workplace, mostly by information technology. For example, the widespread use of electronic bulletin hoards as a forum for rumors of layoffs may cause feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. However, the same boards can be an important source of information for workers.

Advanced information technologies enable organizations to monitor employee performance, even when the worker is not aware of such arrangement. These new technologies also allow organizations to tie pay to performance because performance is electronically monitored.

4. Task Revision: A new concept in the design of work is task revision. Task revision is an innovative way to modify an incorrectly specified role or job. Task revision assumes that organizational roles and job expectations may have been correctly or incorrectly defined. Where the role is correctly defined, behavior of the employee fits the role and performance tends to be high. Performance suffers because of deviant behaviors which result from incorrectly defined jobs. Task revision helps correct such incorrectly, defined jobs.

5. Skill Development: Ability of the employees should be an important consideration in job design. Where employee’s skills and competence do not match with the requirements of job, performance suffers. Thus, organizations must consider the talents and skills of their employees when they engage in job design efforts.

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