Posted: October 27th, 2022


Keri Pearlson, Carol Saunders,
and Dennis Galletta

© Copyright 2016
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Managing and Using Information Systems:
A Strategic Approach – Sixth Edition

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Chapter 4
IT and the Design of Work


American Express Opening Case
What is the “Blue Work” program?
What was the strategic thrust behind the Blue Work program?
What are “hub,” “club,” “home,” and “roam” employees?
What is the role of technology in these arrangements?
What was the impact of Blue Work?
Have other firms found roaming employment useful?

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

It represents a flexible workplace: staggered hours, off-site work areas (such as home), shared office space, touch-down space (laptop-focused, temporary), and telecommuting.
American Express viewed workplace flexibility as a strategic lever. Also, AmEx had a corporate focus on results rather than hours clocked.
Hub: Work in the office; Club: Share time between the office and other locations; Home: work at home at least 3 days a week; Roam: Are on the road or at customer sites
Technology drives the flexibility, it doesn’t just enable productivity
American Express saves $10 million annually. Productivity improvements, office expense savings, employee satisfaction are all up. Managers are happy too.
IBM, Aetna, AT&T use this approach for a third or more of their employees. Sun Microsystems has saved $400 million in real estate costs by allowing half of their employees to roam.

Work Design Framework
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

IT Has Changed Work
IT has:
Created new types of work
Bureau of Labor Statistics: IT employment in the USA is at an all-time high
New jobs such as:
Data scientists/data miners
Social media managers
Communications managers
Enabled new ways to do traditional work
Supported new ways to manage people
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


How IT Changes Traditional Work
Changes the way work is done
Broadens skills; faster but more tasks
Sometimes IT disconnects us from the tasks
Sometimes people can perform more strategic tasks
Few staff are engaged in order entry any longer
Crowdsourcing is now possible at very low cost (M.Turk)
Changes how we communicate
More asynchronous and more irregular
Social networking has provided new opportunities for customer interaction
Collaboration allows a firm to look “big” with new tools
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Zuboff provides an example of disconnection from the task at a paper mill where the masters could no longer smell and squeeze the pulp to make sure of the chlorine content (to know the pulp was ready).
Also, the skills of salespeople have turned from order takers and stock counters to marketing consultants.

How IT Changes Traditional Work
Changes decision-making
Real-time information; more information available
Data mining can identify new insights
Ideas can be gleaned from social networks
Middle management ranks have shrunk as Leavitt/Whisler predicted
Changes collaboration
Work is now more team oriented; more collaborative
Sharing is easier than ever, using multiple methods
Crowdsourcing can now provide quick answers from tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people
We now can disconnect PLACE and TIME (Figure 4.2)
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Example of collaboration: Dell uses IdeaStorm and 23,000 ideas have been submitted, 747,000 votes recorded, and over 100,000 comments have been made. Dell’s management have implemented over 500 of the ideas.

Collaboration Technologies Matrix

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

How IT Changes Traditional Work
New ways to connect
Many employees are always connected
Lines between work and play are now blurred
For many, home technologies are better than work technologies
New ways to manage people
Behavior controls – direct supervision
Outcome controls – examining outcomes not actions
Personnel controls – pick the right person for the task
The digital approach provides new opportunities at any of those three levels (Fig. 4.3)
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Example of personnel control: Apple’s hiring of Steve Jobs while on the verge of bankruptcy. Apple didn’t know exactly what Steve’s task would be. Evaluating him if he didn’t do the stellar things he did would be difficult because the goal was unclear.

Changes to Supervision/Evaluations/ Compensation/Hiring

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Where Work is Done: Mobile and Virtual Work
Much work can be done anywhere, anytime
People desire the flexibility
Telecommuting = teleworking = working from home or even in a coffee shop
Mobile workers work from anywhere (often while traveling)
Remote workers = telecommuters + mobile workers
Virtual teams include remote workers as well as those in their offices, perhaps scattered geographically
Virtual teams have a life cycle (Figure 4.4)
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Key Activities in the Life Cycle of Teams

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Telecommuting: Global Status
A poll of 11,300 employees in 22 countries: 1 in 6 telecommute
When employees in 13 countries were asked if they need to be in the office to be productive:
Overall 39% said “yes”
But specific countries differed in the “yes” votes:
Only 7% in India, but
56% in Japan
57% in Germany
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Drivers of Remote Work and Virtual Teams
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Driver Effect
Shift to knowledge-based work
Changing demographics and lifestyle preferences
New technologies with enhanced bandwidth
Web ubiquity
“Green” concerns Decouples work from any particular place
Workers desire geographic and time-shifting flexibility
Remotely-performed work is practical and cost-effective
Can stay connected 24/7
Reduced commuting costs; real estate energy consumption; travel costs


Some advantages and disadvantages of remote work
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Advantages of Remote Work Potential Problems
Reduced stress: better ability to meet schedules; less distraction at work
Higher morale and lower absenteeism
Geographic flexibility

Higher personal productivity

Housebound individuals can join the workforce
Informal Dress Increased stress: Harder to separate work from home life
Harder to evaluate performance
Employee may become disconnected
from company culture
Telecommuters are more easily replaced by offshore workers
Not suitable for all jobs or employees
Security might be more difficult


Virtual Teams
Virtual Teams: geographically and/or organizationally dispersed coworkers:
Assembled using telecommunications and IT
Aim is to accomplish an organizational task
Often must be evaluated using outcome controls
Why are they growing in popularity?
Information explosion: some specialists are far away
Enhanced bandwidths/fast connections to outsiders
Technology is available to assist collaboration
Less difficult to get relevant stakeholders together
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Challenges facing virtual teams.
Challenges Virtual Teams Traditional Teams
Communications Multiple time zones can lead to greater efficiency but can lead to communication difficulties and coordination costs (passing work).
Non-verbal communication is difficult to convey Same time zone. Scheduling is less difficult.
Teams may use richer communication media.
Technology Proficiency is required in several technologies. Support for face-to-face interaction without replacing it
Skills and task-technology fit is less critical
Team Diversity Members represent different organizations and/or cultures:
– Harder to establish a group identity.
– Necessary to have better com. skills
– More difficult to build trust, norms
– Impact of deadlines not always consistent More homogeneous members
Easier group identity
Easier to communicate



Managerial Issues In Telecommuting and Mobile Work
Planning, business and support tasks must be redesigned to support mobile and remote workers
Training should be offered so all workers can understand the new work environment
Employees selected for telecommuting jobs must be self-starters
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Managing the Challenges
Communications challenges
Policies and practices must support the work arrangements
Must prepare differently for meetings
Slides and other electronic material must be shared beforehand
Soft-spoken people are difficult to hear; managers must repeat key messages
Frequent communications are helpful (hard to “overcommunicate”)
Technology challenges
Provide technology and support to remote workers
Use high quality web conferencing applications
Clarify time zones for scheduling
Information should be available for everyone (cloud storage can help)
Policies and norms about use of the technology can be important
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Managing the Challenges
Diversity challenges
Concept of time differs throughout the world
Anglo-American cultures view time as a continuum (deadlines are important; many prefer not to multitask)
Indian cultures have a cyclical view of time (deadlines are less potent; many prefer to multitask)
Team diversity might need nurturing:
Communications differences
Trust building
Group identity formation
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Gaining Acceptance For It-induced Change
Many changes might be a major concern for employees
Changes might be resisted if they are viewed as negative impacts
Several types of resistance:
Denying that the system is up and running
Sabotage by distorting or otherwise altering inputs
Believing and/or spreading the word that the new system will not change the status quo
Refusing to use the new system (if voluntary)
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Kotter’s Model

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keri Pearlson, Carol Saunders,
and Dennis Galletta

© Copyright 2016
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Managing and Using Information Systems:
A Strategic Approach – Sixth Edition

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