Part of my job as a faculty member is committee work. One of my committee obligations is related to my institution’s strategic planning process. This committee’s role is to research and debate the basic assumptions that will influence our strategic plans. This year we added a new assumption related to preparing students for a networked workforce. This assumption was in response to research that suggested the workforce is changing. Smith and Anderson (2014) indicated that educational institutions are failing to prepare students for a modern workforce. The move to a networked workforce has many benefits for organizations and workers.
First, the nature of work will change. Jarche (2013) explained the networked workforce is the changing role of a manager. Instead of overseeing employees managers will serve more as an assistant. Weinberger (2011) suggested the role of manager would be about keeping the network working together on the same wavelength. Another benefit of a networked workforce is cost savings for organizations. Bednarz (2013) stated telecommuting could save billions in infrastructure costs.
The skills needed to be competitive in a networked workforce include understanding new media, social intelligence and the ability to virtually collaborate, among others skills. I think these new competencies present both opportunities and challenges for workers and organizations. For instance, in industries that aren’t used to telecommuting and virtual collaboration making a shift in organizational culture takes time. Also, employees that aren’t used to a networked workforce could experience trouble in acclimating to the change in culture and they could struggle developing in-demand skills. Additionally, finding work could be hard for some people. Smith (2015) stated most people are turning to the Internet to find employment. Moreover, people are using their smart phones to apply for jobs.
I think another big challenge of a changing workforce is communicating these changes to the public. A networked workforce has implications for the culture, the economy and even politics. How these changes are communicated over time will have an impact on how society responds. Laws, policies, schools and government will have to reflect the changing labor force.
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.