Saturday, July 15, 2017

21st Century Design of Work - Knowledge Work and Muscle Work - Brain and Bran

All people say 20th century work design was influenced and guided by F.W. Taylor. Taylor did not actually say and encourage division of work into extremely small elements. What Taylor advocated was estimation of time required to do work by first studying elements of work and then using those times to estimate the completion time of a piece. The division of work into extremely small elements and advocating to make work as simple as possible so that anybody can be trained to do work in 3 days was the work of Ford Assembly line designers. But the various persons who wanted to criticize Taylor ascribed to him whatever they wanted to highlight. Taylor died in 1915. There is no body to defend him and critics had a field day.

Now what are the scientific theories, engineering guidelines and management guidelines to support work design during this 21st Century. I want to spend some time, contact some persons and to compile this note in detail.

But today I came across an article in published in McKinsey Quarterly.

Preparing for a new era of work
By Susan Lund, James Manyika, and Sree Ramaswamy
McKinsey Quarterly
November 2012

The authors highlighted three issues.

1. Break jobs down

Nearly all high-skill interaction jobs include tasks that can be hived off to allow the best-paid workers to focus on the most value-creating activities. Even traditional corporate line positions are also splintering.

2. Go virtual

Employers first began ramping up their use of remote-work arrangements in the 1990s, in part to retain the services of mothers who preferred not to commute or who wanted to work part time.

3. Make work more flexible

By breaking some jobs into components and using technology to virtualize others, employers can engage labor far more efficiently. There is a spectrum of possible work arrangements. Ttraditional full-time workers in the office, part-time or temporary workers, and contingent, remote workers who can help meet spikes in demand, all options are available and companies can become flexible by making appropriate work design and human resource or services allocation or acquisition process designs.

Breaking managerial work is the recommendation and main point of Taylor.  So 21st Century trend noticed and advocated by McKinsey expert is to focus on knowledge work to divide it further into more skilled and less skilled jobs.

Making work virtual has progressed a lot and employees these days in USA are able to work from home whenever they want. Flexible work is also coming into place and many persons are writing about an economy where lot more services will be cloud based and more people are engaged to provide services that are virtual and flexible.

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