تغییر سریع یا تکامل تدریجی؟ تغییر مکان کار و عواقب آن در انگلستان
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 21, March 2012, Pages 31–38
It is often suggested that work is changing rapidly and that working in a fixed place, such as an office, is a thing of the past for a growing number of workers. By piecing together a variety of UK surveys of both employers and workers, this article shows that while work is being detached from conventional places of work, it is happening at a much slower rate than some claims suggest. The article also discusses the consequences these changes have for how and what individuals learn at work, and in particular, how individuals cope with working in a number of contrasting locations.
In a world of hyperbole and exaggeration, journalists and headline writers have seized on the suggestion that working for 8 h a day in a fixed place is outmoded. Indeed, many readers will have experienced first-hand, the notion that the world of work is spreading its tentacles throughout time and space. The days when paid employment was confined to designated hours in a specified place are fast fading for managers, professionals and other white-collar workers in particular. Mobile phones, laptops, e-mail and internet connectivity mean that work can done wherever we are and whatever the time. Work can be done using a PC in the back bedroom, a mobile phone headset in the car, a table at a motorway service station, a desk in a corporate office building, a rented meeting room in a serviced office building and/or a chair in a hotel lobby. Furthermore, all of these places can be used by one person in a single day. Everywhere has the potential to become a place of work. Contrasting locations call for different skills and working practices. Getting reports written in a crowded railway carriage involves mentally shutting out the noise and distractions of fellow passengers, as well as grabbing and holding on to a seat. Making business calls while stuck in traffic requires that all the right phone numbers have been stored on the handset. Preparing for a meeting by reading the relevant documents while relaxing on a sofa at home entails negotiations with family members who want to watch TV or play games. Time spent in the office building requires balancing pressures to maintain informal contacts with co-workers with the need to get things done. In short, some places of work pose challenges of isolation and detachment, while others entail managing contacts with family, colleagues and strangers. The diversity and fragmentation of workplaces requires not only coping with a range of demands but also slipping effortlessly from one place to the next (Halford, 2005). These changes have profound implications for the everyday experience of work and the nature of daily life. This article has two aims. First, it charts the extent to which work is becoming detached from place. Previous studies have tended to compare the demographic and employment profiles of ‘homeworkers’ or ‘teleworkers’ with those working in the conventional workplace (Felstead, 1996, Hakim, 1998, Felstead et al., 2001, Huws et al., 1999, Hotopp, 2002, Haddon and Brynin, 2005 and Ruiz and Walling, 2005). These studies have done much to focus attention on the home as a place of work. However, they have failed to highlight other places of work such as the spaces used while working on employers’ premises and the spaces used while ‘on the move’ travelling from place to place (Hislop and Axtell, 2007 and Alexander et al., 2010). The first aim of this article, then, is to chart with available data for the UK, the shifting locations of work, both outside and inside the office. The article reports on the changing proportions and numbers of people carrying out work away from the conventional physical boundaries of the office or factory. It also examines the past, current and future use employers are making of techniques intended to effect this change for office workers in particular. In so doing, it adds new statistical evidence to the debate by updating data presented elsewhere (see Felstead et al., 2005a and Felstead et al., 2005b) and analyzes data sources not previously examined from such a perspective. Secondly, the article discusses some of the consequences these changes may have for how and what individuals learn and how they cope with working in a variety of contrasting locations, not all of which may be conducive to all types of task. The article is structured around these two aims. We begin, however, with a brief review of existing research in this field in order to contextualize the article and its contribution.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Discussion of the changing place of work tends to excite hyperbole, exaggerated claims and wild predictions. This type of reporting – often emphasized by attention-grabbing newspaper headlines – over-emphasizes the rapidity of change. However, the evidence reviewed here suggests that changes in the location of work are more gradual with work becoming increasingly, but slowly, detached from conventional places of work. This change is affecting office workers in particular who historically have been given individual and personalized cubes of space marked by a walled cell or by an allocated desk. Instead, office work can now, with the help of ICT and the mobile phone and laptop in particular, be carried out in a variety of different places – in the home, in an assortment of locations within the office, in clients’ premises and in ‘third places’ such as the train, the car and the plane. The need for personal office space is therefore being questioned. Furthermore, faced with rising real estate costs, employers are reconsidering the value of ‘personal office’ space which is often left vacant while individuals are away from their desks. As a result, employers are increasingly turning to use of ‘collective office’ space in which facilities are shared and used on an as needed basis. This development is typified by ‘hot desking’ which has grown in the past and is expected to grow in the future. Evidence of change also comes from individual-level surveys of where people work. This shows that in 2010 around one in seven (15.3%) workers used their home, for at least 1 day a week, as a place of work or as the start point from which to work outside the conventional workplace. Back in 1997, when data on this issue was first collected in the UK, the proportion stood at 11.3%. Based on this trend, the proportion will have risen to around 20% of workers by 2025 (Felstead, 2009). Effective functioning in such multiple places of work requires heightened levels of self-discipline and the ability to make places amenable to work as well as doing particular work tasks in appropriate places. Both of these abilities require workers to learn about the affordances of particular places in order to understand what works where and how, and therefore cope with being ‘always on, always ready, always connected’ wherever they happen to be. However, despite a large and growing literature on the changing spaces of work, this article has shown that there are gaps in our knowledge of this shifting landscape. We do not know, for example, much about the levels of discretion workers can exercise over where they work. Yet there are numerous studies – both quantitative and qualitative – which collect evidence on other features of the labor process such as job control and working time. Detachment of work from place can also enhance pressures to extend and intensify work. Yet, once again, research here is relatively undeveloped. It is along these lines, then, that future research would make a significant and useful contribution.