changing work patterns

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Information technology has led to many changes in how we work, where we work and even when we work. It has had a dramatic effect on our working lives.

History and recent developments

  • Until the mid-90s it was not possible to shop online. The closest alternative was shopping by phone.
  • The same was true for banking and all the host of Government and other services which now exist online.
  • Emailemailelectronic mail - a message written or typed on a computer and sent electronically rather than by postwas not widely used and instant messengerinstant messengeran application that allows users to send instant messages (text) to one another didn't exist.
  • Instead of mobile phones there was a trend for CB (Citizen's Band) radio.
  • Documents could not be sent as email attachments[attachmenta file that's 'attached' to an email is called an attachment ] and were faxed instead (a paper document is digitised, sent down a phone line, and then printed at the other end).
  • The need to travel for essential services, eg banking, was far greater for those who lived outside town.

Recent developments

Today, customers expect even the smallest of businesses to have a professional, informative websitewebsitea web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser. Businesses that have failed to embrace the advancement of communications and ICT have put themselves at a disadvantage.

It is now common for adverts to include a webwebincludes all of the web pages accessible via the Internet address in addition to, or even instead of a phone number.

Impact on employment

The introduction of information technology has caused some unemployment, for example:

  • Computer-controlled warehouses need only a handful of staff to operate them.
  • Computer-controlled robots are now common on production lines, replacing human workers.
  • The old skills of workers in the printing industry are now out-of-date.
  • Some jobs have disappeared as they can now be done automatically, eg marking multiple choice exam papers.

However, it is fair to say that the development of information technology has led to many new jobs such as computer technicians, programmers, webwebincludes all of the web pages accessible via the Internet designers and systems analysts.

Learning on the job

IT is more likely to have changed someone's work rather than led to them losing their job. People in certain professions have had to be retrained to make use of modern technology:

  • Secretaries now use word processors and not typewriters.
  • Travel agents book holidays by computer, not by phone or letter.
  • Telephone banking has meant that many bank staff now work by phone in front of a computer, instead of being in a branch, behind a counter.
  • De-skilling has taken place. Some jobs which needed a high level of skill in the past can now be done more easily. For example, print workers today can use DTP software[desktop publishing

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