Saturday, December 25, 2010

Work is Changing

The nature of work and the ways we think about it are undergoing fundamental changes. Give it a thought - even 10 years ago, would we think of work as:
  • alternative
  • nontraditional
  • market mediated
  • vulnerable
  • contract
  • freelance
  • e-lance
  • contingent
  • disposable
  • temporary
  • nonstandard
  • telecommuting
Since business is changing and the world is becoming more competitive, people become increasingly demanding towards the format they wish to render their services in exchange for some sort of value. Hence, there is more and more research on such topics as market mediation, non-traditional work and even new branches of science, e.g. “nonorganizational work psychology”.

At the same time, only a few countires are ready for such shift. The US and the Western European countries are leading the way, but elsewhere it is a far cry from where the labor markets are now. I am looking at the Russian labor market and I realize that while there are some early signs of drifting away from the "standard" models, outside the capital CEOs are vaguely familiar with such functions as HR or Marketing, so I cherish no hopes that all of a sudden we will shift to "non-standard" progressive modes of work.

Apart from purely traditional, conventional and customary issues hampering this transition, there are obviously practical questions concerning, for instance, legal issues, career management problems, and other aspects, encompassing motivational, organizational, controlling and other spheres of work environment.

Are we as HR ready to embrace these changes? Looks like we won't have a choice if we want to maintain a competitive Employee Value Proposition, but I doubt that it is a one-size-fits-all option. Obviously, this paradygm shift is geared towards knowledge workers, those whose skills are more portable, those who are more valuable and those who can work remotely. There is a great role for us to play in planning and shaping the 21st century work, but still something prompts me that the change will happen quickly, will hit us with the force of an avalanche and will spread faster than a viral infection.

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