The New Age Worker

by p b    Jun 22, 2011

Anurag AgrawalToday the nature of work has evolved to such an extent that we are seeing the rise of a new worker. Let us take an example of two countries, in which USA is, a mature market and Brazil is, an emerging market. Chart I shows that the SMEs in each of these countries have workers that either work from home or travel for work.

Chart IAnd this level of working from home has more than doubled in the last 10 years. In fact, it took 10 years for telecommuting to double but only half the time period to double again.

What is more important is Chart II showing different applications and technologies that are being used by employees to collaborate amongst themselves while traveling or working from home.Chart IIThe data not only gives us a glimpse of the evolving nature of work but also points to the rising persona of the “new worker”. This new worker is expected to work irrespective of location and time, is also more adept at using technologies such as video communication, smart phones and social networking to his or her advantage. Employees, who work from a remote location most of the time, are not necessarily the heaviest users of these technologies. The amount of time spent by workers in working away from office actually varies according to their job needs and business decision makers should pay special attention to recognize and enable these new workers.

The Indian worker

Indian businesses have more to lose than any other country if they do not consciously recognize the emergence of the new worker. In a country where every employee owns a mobile phone and laptop and travels frequently; workers face an unproductive period during frequent traffic jams. Just when businesses are spreading across the globe, mobility is of utmost importance. Laying the foundation for enabling the new mobile worker is more imperative now, than at any other time.

As new workers slowly become accustomed to easy-to-use, consumer-oriented web technologies, there are changes occurring in the workplace. The IT department has to increasingly adjust itself, moving from a command-and-control environment to a more flexible and approachable process that not only allows adoption and usage of new technologies but also manages rogue implementations.

Technology will continue to impact the new workers and reduce their dependency on time and place of work. There will also be greater use of video communications, smart phones and social networks. However, new technologies have to go a long way to be integrated and be able to provide better, more efficient and seamless collaboration within businesses. We also see many smaller companies develop solutions that provide such integrations and IT decision makers should not be afraid to try them out.

With the rise of the new worker, businesses should no longer be seen as a ‘collection of individuals’ but increasingly as ‘collections of geographically dispersed individuals’. Do pay attention to the plurality of the word ‘collections’. IT departments have to seriously alter their processes to account for new work styles, changing attitudes and behavior of these powerful and demanding new workers.

Anurag Agrawal

Anurag Agrawal is the CEO of Techaisle, a global market research and consulting company focused on SMBs and Channels. Prior to Techaisle, Anurag headed Gartner’s Worldwide Research Operations and before that was with IDC.