The Future of Work: where's paper?
Business Week published an interesting article on "The End of Work As You Know It". It tries to give us a peek in the future, based on mechanisms that many books have laid out for us, such as "The World is Flat" and "Wikinomics". The article ends with:
All that raises a fundamental question about technology's ultimate impact on workers. Will this be a new world of empowered individuals encased in a bubble of time-saving technologies? Or will it be a brave new world of virtual sweatshops, where all but a tech-savvy few are relegated to an always-on world in which keystrokes, contacts, and purchases are tracked and fed into the faceless corporate maw?Ah, well actually that is exactly what I was missing in this article. Where's paper? Will we live in a digital world and read everything from devices? Practice and the book "The Myth of the Paperless Office" say 'no'. And isn't that where complexity comes in: the real problem with work is moving between our fysical (e.g. face-to-face) and virtual, paper and digital worlds. Two worlds organised in different ways.
It's safe to say we'll see some of both. But perhaps we can comfort ourselves by realizing that, while technology will change the nature of work, it can't change human nature. "All of these technologies," says Charles Grantham, executive producer of the research group Work Design Collaborative, "aren't going to be a substitute for face-to-face interaction."