Pre Reading: Technologies and Work
The changing nature of work reflects various influences, particularly technology. Technological developments
have largely shaped the way jobs are defined, performed and valued in society. As jobs become computerised and
mechanised, the structure of the workplace is shifting, particularly as tasks are completed more efficiently.
A job refers to an activity an individual performs or their responsibility to do something. Work can be defined as
paid or unpaid. Paid workers receive payment or imbursement for their acts whilst unpaid workers may not.
In Australia, individuals are employed full-time, part-time or casual. Full-time refers to individuals working a full
working week. The definition of full-time largely depends on agreements with employers, but the general
understanding is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week or the equivalent (40 hours per week).
Part-time work refers to individuals working only a portion of a full working week, e.g. fixed hours on fixed days
equalling less than 40 hours. For example, someone working every Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am –
2pm would be considered part-time.
The changing definition, particularly in the western world, accounts for the large majority of workers employed in
service industries where time management or restriction is irrelevant. For example, a software developer will not
know how long it will take to produce a particular program.
Instead, they complete the task using as much time and energy as required. Most of these positions are
contracted or outsourced, for example the developer may add their hours and charge when the task is
completed, alternatively they may cap their work to a specific number of hours, e.g. they may quote 30 hours for
Structure of the workplace
Depending on varying and emerging demographics, identities and technologies, the structure of workplaces
change. As technology emerges, particular roles may become redundant. Technological developments have led to
the downsizing of companies, mergers, acquisitions and out-sourcing of various tasks.
On the other hand, technology can also lead to an influx of new and improved job roles that can be identified in
the ever-expanding information technology sector. In many instances, individuals are employed in jobs that didn’t
exist when their parents or grandparents entered the workforce. Within society, communities and individuals are
being prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist and technologies that haven’t yet been invented.
Aside from job descriptions themselves, the way people complete their tasks and fulfil their responsibilities are
changing due to technological developments. Many labour-intensive jobs have been replaced by machines and
are now performed automatically. Some jobs labelled as repetitive and mundane no longer require human input.
For example, in the packaging industry, machines are being utilised to form, fill and seal various products.
What once relied upon human involvement can be done by state of the art processing and packaging
Due to developments in communication technology, efficiency and cost effectiveness is at the focus of every
business. Employees often use a multitude of communication technologies to complete their daily tasks.
Job satisfaction and efficiency
Job satisfaction refers to how content a person is in their position, i.e. how interested or challenged they are and
how worthwhile they feel their role is. Technological developments have led to a rise and fall in job satisfaction.
On one hand, tasks that are assisted by technology are causing jobs to be repetitive, tedious and uninteresting.
For example, individuals in data-entry roles simply enter data into computers and allow the computer to analyse
and interpret the information. Whilst this may lead to less human error or inaccuracy, individuals are no longer
required to make sense of the data themselves. They may then receive no fulfilment from their position, as they
believe there is no sense of accomplishment.
On the other hand, technologies used in some positions have meant the time and effort spent on tasks has fallen.
Their satisfaction may rise as they can complete jobs faster allowing them to reduce their time and efforts or
move on to other tasks and responsibilities.
Job satisfaction connects to skill development. As workers train and develop their skills and understanding
regarding specific technologies, their satisfaction with their job can rise. For example, if employees of an
organisation are trained in using a superior technology, they may be satisfied with their improved role.
Conversely, if individuals aren’t skilled or don’t possess the expertise they require to use technology associated
with their job, satisfaction levels may fall. They may feel frustrated about their role and be discouraged about
Efficiency relates to the ability to do something without wasted energy or effort. It is measured by the ratio of
input to output, i.e. how much energy or time is put into a task compared to the outcome.
Technologies are often developed with improving efficiency as the main objective. As food processors improve
the efficiency of cooking related tasks, a multitude of technologies improve efficiency levels in the workforce. As
mentioned above, technologies enable workers to complete tasks faster and more effectively. Their satisfaction
may rise as they become more efficient in their position.
Employment and unemployment
Technology has had both positive and negative effects on employment levels. Some roles have been made
redundant as a result of technological developments, whilst others have been formed to complement such
developments. Whilst industries such as manufacturing have seen a drop in available positions, there are now a
growing amount of positions in technology based roles such as analysts, programmers, computer operators,
engineers, graphic and multimedia design, networking, sales, security and telecommunications.
Australia’s job site SEEK advertises that a new job is posted every 30 seconds. Of the available jobs, the vast
majority are related to technology. Although there are arguments suggesting technology developments will lead
to mass unemployment, statistics prove otherwise.
Training and education
Current and potential employees are often judged in terms of their skills and understanding associated with
technology. In many workplaces throughout the world, employees are encouraged, if not compelled, to
undertake a variety of training and education associated with technology.
As previously mentioned, technology is a major focus in the education system. Throughout the states and
territories of Australia, students are required to study a variety of technology-based subjects, with many
opportunities and choices to further their understanding through various other subjects. There are also a variety
of tertiary courses and degrees focused on education along with post-school opportunities within the community
Introduction of technology into the workplace
There are a range of roles and responsibilities of employers and employees in relation to introducing technology
in the workplace. Employers are responsible for encouraging and offering training and education (and associated
financial assistance) to enhance employees’ skills and knowledge in terms of technology appropriate to their role.
Employers are also responsible for maintaining safety standards and addressing occupational and health safety
concerns associated with technology. They need to ensure the particular equipment used, and how it is used,
Employees are responsible for keeping up to date with their knowledge and understanding of appropriate
technologies and participating in compulsory and suggested education and training offered by their employer.
Often, the introduction and implementation of technology into the workplace can cause conflict. Employees may
feel their positions are threatened by the automation and efficiency offered by new and improved technologies.
Employees may feel pressures or anxieties in terms of adopting and understanding the changes to their roles as a
result of technology. To avoid conflict in the employer-employee relationship, all parties should have a positive
attitude towards change and be open and willing to consider and adopt new and improved technologies.
Source: Exploring CAFS (Titan Education)