The Internet has come to stay. It has actually crept into various aspects of our lives knowingly or unknowingly. It influences the way we work, relate, talk, think and live. Organizations are also being affected by the existence of the Internet.
Opportunities and advantages of the Internet in the work place are many. Networked workers have the capacity to work on the go. When necessity calls, they are able to respond even if they are in the fields or half-way across the globe. Through the Internet, they can be reached, and through social network, they can make their contributions in real time, at an affordable cost. Internet makes telecommuting possible. According to Bednarz (2013) networked workers who work from home are more satisfied, contribute more working hours, and are more cost effective (they save money/time on transport, they save money on renting office spaces, they save time that could have been given to sick leave, etc).
There are also a number of challenges with the Internet and networked workers. First networked workers are more stressed since they carry their work about with them on their smart devices. Second, due to the changing nature of work requirements, especially in the face of automation of many blue collar and white collar jobs, networked workers must keep learning, and honing their skills and learning new skills to remain relevant. This is quite challenging and stressful. Third, with the rapid changes being brought by the Internet, there is an air of unpredictability hanging in the air in many organizations. Organizations do not know what new trend that may render them and their services irrelevant. Fourth, there is the concern that automation may take over a lot of blue and white collar jobs. This may lead to unemployment and social unrest ( Smith and Anderson, 2014). Fifth, it has been argued that telecommuting staffs tell more lies, and it is difficult to supervise and give practical feedbacks to such staff. Sixth, availability of the internet can lead to distraction (time spent on social media) and waste of time (time spent just surfing the immense information on the net). Seventh, the undiscerning can be easily misinformed on the Internet. It takes skill to sieve the huge information seen on the Internet.
The advantages of freely available internet access to workers are many. First, it helps the workers to be socially networked and encourages communication. With communication, work effectiveness, and social relationship is enhanced. Second, availability of the Internet encourages on-going learning. Many workers learn relevant skills on their own, at their pace in cost effective manner. This is advantageous to whatever industry they are in. Third, free Internet access for workers encourages staff to communicate and collaborate more. This leads to effectiveness and efficiency. Fourth, it encourages transparency and trust. It also encourages carrying people along. Through organizations’ social media account, they can collaborate and share ideas very effectively. Fifth, communication is very important in relationships. In a networked world, where workers cut across time zones, national and organizational boundaries, the internet provide the medium that enhance the building of relationships for effectiveness in the work place. Sixth, automation of a number of jobs may lead to more leisure time for humans (Smith and Anderson, 2014). Seventh, although job automation may lead to loss of some jobs, the advancement in technology will lead to the creation of newer job opportunities especially for those workers who learn to reeducate themselves and re-adapt.
One main opportunity inherent the above challenges is that the Internet offers the time needed to develop other important aspects of life that are valuable and meaningful. Smith and Anderson (2014) explain that “Many things need to be done to care for, teach, feed, and heal others that are difficult to monetize. If technologies replace people in some jobs and roles, what kinds of social support or safety nets will make it possible for them to contribute to the common good through other means?” Perhaps, it will create the opportunity for humans to focus in other important aspects of life like those listed above. Also, the automation of jobs will also give humans time to engage in and explore other important aspects of life like building relationships and pursuing other meaningful activities like spending time in developing human relationships. Furthermore, advances in AI will be helpful for the elderly and disabled in society by providing means that will help their better integration and access to things, and also, it will enhance their care (Smith and Anderson, 2014). For instance, self-driving cars will make it easier for the disabled, visually challenged or elderly persons to move around without hindrances. This will open up a lot of economic opportunities for them, and enhance their psychological well-being. Finally, the challenges posed by automation (unemployment) may present humans with the opportunity to re-organize society to find ways to better integrate and cater for the unemployed.
In general, I believe that there are a lot of opportunities inherent in the advancement being presented to us by the Internet. There are some challenges, but the opportunities are much. Humans will continue to find ways to reduce the problems posed by the challenges of technology, and strive to maximize the opportunities these technologies present.
Bednar, A. (2013, Feb. 28). Is Yahoo’s telework ban shortsighted or savvy? Data says both. NETWORKWORLD. Retrieved from http://www.networkworld.com/article/2163977/smb/is-yahoo-s-telework-ban-shortsighted-or-savvy–data-says-both.html
Smith A., & Anderson J. (2014, August 6). A1, robotics, and the future of jobs. PewResearchCenter: Internet, Science and Tech. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs/