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The interim report of the European Commission's "High Level Group of Experts" initiated by Commissioner Padraig Flynn makes extremely stimulating reading. We would like to contribute to the debate by addressing one of the major issues raised by the report and which will be of extreme importance to the Cybercitizen.

The nature of work
in the Information Society

Here is a list of possible tracks to be explored in considering the evolution of work - in particular teleworking - in the Information Society. This list owes much to the above mentioned report.

Caution! As the list here only looks at work in the forthcoming Information Society from the point of view of potential problems and makes no mention of the numerous advantages, the resulting image is falsely negative. The interim report gives a more balanced picture.

  1. The Information Society implies an increased use of representations of reality rather than reality itself. How will this affect the nature of work?
  2. A career was a predetermined path through working life aimed at personal enhancement (and corporate profit). It was reassuring to know where you were going and made sense of work. Nowadays, the role of the career has much diminished. Without such a personal project to map out the road, how are we to cope with current rapid change in work? How can we decide what we (will) need to know?
  3. As skills rapidly become obsolete, how can we encourage and facilitate learning and turn the Information Society into a learning society? See "Learning in the Information Society".
  4. Work was traditionally clearly separated from non-work, especially for salaried staff. The up-and-coming Information Society blurs such distinctions. How can work and family-life be reconciled, especially in a context where much work is to be done at home?
  5. In a networked society, how can people be guaranteed the right and the possibility to "disconnect" and go "off-line"?
  6. How can off-line contact be fostered in a heavily on-line society? How can the risk of isolation of the teleworker be combated?
  7. What is going to be the effect of the Information Society - in which many are likely to work from home on a partial if not casual basis - on current redistribution schemes like social security?
  8. How are satisfactory working conditions to be guaranteed when people work regularly or sporadically at home?
  9. Will not the Information Society require a re-definition of current forms of representation of the working and the non-working population and structures of negotiation between social partners?
  10. What equitable forms of remuneration can be developed that take into account the changing nature of work? For those doing teleworking, for example, how are related costs (rent, machines, other overheads,..) to be reimbursed?
  11. How are we to avoid that the brunt of change and adaptation be borne solely by those who are already badly off: the un-skilled workers and the unemployed?
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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey,
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Created: June 10th, 1996 - Last up-dated: June 10th, 1996