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Workforce going mobile March 22, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Internet, IT Services, Outsourcing.
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The entire workforce is mobile these days. If you don’t believe it then think for a moment about how a typical worker in any professional industry might start the day.

Get up, get breakfast, check the latest news on a smart-phone while eating toast, catch the bus to work listening to the news on the radio whilst browsing the web and checking emails. By the time the worker arrives at the office, all those early emails from Asia are dealt with and he has an update from the media on what is happening in the world that day.

If it still sounds far-fetched or untraditional then take a look around you on your morning commute. Sure, there are still some people with books and newspapers, but there are an increasingly large number of people who are connected the moment they pick up their phone.

This ability to use the web, collect email, and produce documents while on the move has never been so easy or pervasive – these devices are not issued by NASA, they are the iPhones and Android devices available on the High Street.

This always-on ability flies in the face of organisations that ban social networks inside the office. Which office worker faced with a social network ban never uses a social network? They just use their phone instead.

At present, the implications for the always-connected workforce are only starting to be understood, but they spread wider than just creating the opportunity to check email on a commute.

Some changes might be:

  • Employees are generally using higher-specification equipment now than the official kit issued by the company. Will this change the technology function of many companies so they just offer a basic infrastructure, a platform to connect to with bulletproof security? The IT department, as we know it, will be dead.
  • Commuting patterns may change entirely as employees are more seamlessly available 9 to 5 without being in a fixed location.
  • The fabric of many cities may change entirely as workers desert their core and accept a longer commute once or twice a week.

The humble smartphone and the freedom it offers to knowledge workers could change work and societies as fundamentally as the railways shaped Victorian society.

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Will technology offer a market for skills in retirement? October 11, 2010

Posted by Mark Hillary in Outsourcing.
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The idea of retirement is changing forever. The government in Britain – and other EU nations – is increasing the age at which state retirement benefits will commence. Many see it as unfair because they will have to continue working for longer than the past generation – probably for less generous benefits from the state. But this idea of a third age where you sit back on a pot of retirement savings and state benefits has really only been a reality for half a century or so.

Perhaps we are reverting back to a different age, though not one where we all die before retirement! Is there a smarter way?

There is an issue in living longer; we can’t realistically expect to just play golf for the last 30 years of life, unless the funds to do that are from our own endeavour – the state won’t bear that kind of support. But technology is now changing the way that we all work, offering many home-based opportunities. Not just call centre agents based from home, but allowing anyone to use their skills and to sell those skills over the Internet to a global market.

Websites like freelancer.com and odesk.com have tapped into this market for individuals who want to sell their skills, but have they considered how it might work to market those in their senior years? And should that even matter? An editor selling his expertise online on a freelance basis would probably benefit from having more, rather than less, experience. As would an accountant, as would a consultant.

So are we missing a trick by not exploring a national way to tap into this resource pool of expertise?