TECHNOLOGY IN THE WORKPLACE DEBATE
Technologyin the Workplace Debate
Technologyin the Workplace Debate
Technologyplays an important role in the modern workplaces. Organizations indifferent fields of business, and also non business organizations,are finding it difficult to operate without the most recenttechnologies. Some of the most important technologies in the modernworkplaces include computer based and internet technologies andautomation of tasks. Computer based technologies and the internetshave increased efficient and productivity in office work such asaccounting. On the other hand, automation especially in tasks thatare repetitive in manufacturing and agricultural sectors hasincreased efficiency, output and production capacity. The adopting ofnew and emerging technologies in workplaces has some ethicalimplications (Brynjolfsson, 2014). Nonetheless, there arecontroversies relating to impacts of technology on productivity andethics in workplaces.
Themain reason why business and non business organizations are adoptingnew and emerging technologies has been as a result of the ability oftechnologies to improve productivity and reduce cost of operations.However, this is a controversial issue. There is a wide range ofbenefits related to improved productivity that is associated withadoption of net technology. Technology has a huge impact in theproduction industries, agriculture and office work. It enhances speedin which tasks are completed, reduce the cost of production and makethe production process more reliable. Emerging technologies such ascomputer based technologies in office work and automation of routinejobs in the manufacturing and agricultural sector has shortened thecycle times and setup times. In addition to increasing flexibility inworkplaces, emerging technologies have increased the capacity oforganizations, improved quality and reduced maintenance cost. Thisresults into an overall increase in productivity of the organization.Emerging technology also plays an in the development of new productsand innovations that improves productivity. For example, throughemerging communication technology such as social media, input fromdifferent people including customers and workers can be incorporatedto increase productivity and efficiency. Technologies will alsofacilitate fast, efficient and cost effective development of newproducts (Breacher, 2015). Perhaps the most important role oftechnology in increasing productivity is the creation of intangibleresources in the business organization. Technology plays an importantrole in the creation of knowledge and relationship in the workplaces.For example, information technology promotes networking betweenworking teams, resulting into increased participation and moreeffective communication which enhance productivity. Therefore,technologies can generally increase output, efficiency and leads toproducts with improved characteristics (Brynjolfsson, 2014).
However,some economists and scholars have been opposed to the perception thatautomation of processes and adoption of emerging technologies inorganization increase productivity, especially labor productivity.This is because labor productivity statistics in the since 1970scompared to the modern statistics does not support an increased laborproductivity. Economic studies indicates that since 1970s when theimpact of modern technologies in offices, manufacturing andagriculture started taking effects, there has been a relative slowdown in growth in labor productivity. While there is no doubt thatthere are some gains as a result of emerging technologies, the gainsare not well distributed in the economy such that some individuals ororganization benefits at the expense of others resulting intoaggregate decline in productivity. For example, it has been arguedthat due to time lag hypothesis diminishing marginal returns ofinformation technology and computer technology, they have little orno contribution to productivity (Gordon, 2012). Additionally, eventhe most sophisticated and automated machines require human inputs. In the modern workplace, computers perform various tasks, but not ina different or efficient manner. They only ensure that the task isdone faster. The gain in the manufacturing productivity in the late20thcentury as a result of automation and adoption of new technologieshas been growing but at a steadily decreasing rate resulting into anoverall negative impact of technology on productivity. Although thesearguments are valid, the role of technology in the modern workplacesand employee productivity can not be disputed (Chou et al, 2015).
Emergingtechnologies and ethics in business organization have an impact oneach other. There has been a perception that emerging technologies inworkplaces erodes or overrun the morality and ethical standards. Theemerging technologies have resulted into new ethical challenges thathave an impact on relationship between an employee and otheremployees, the employer as well as the customers. The main ethicalconcern associated with emerging technologies is related to privacyissues and restriction of communication (Ciocchetti, 2011). Emergingtechnologies enables employees to use company communicationfacilities such as the internet for work related and personalcommunication. However, there is an increased trend of employersmonitoring the activities of their employees which attracts ethicalconcerns. The most important ethical issue involves the employeraccessing personal communications and information without theknowledge of the employee. On the other hand, there are ethicalissues associated with employees putting company resources topersonal use without the authority of the employer. This includesboth time and communication resources. Other technologies that haveethical implications include employee monitoring equipments andviolation of copyright and intellectual property rights (Reynolds,2014).
However,there are counterarguments. Some scholars have argued thatadvancement in technology has a positive impact on ethics inworkplaces. This is based on the rationale that increased monitoringof the employees activity can reduce unethical behaviors. Forexample, unethical sharing of critical and secret information in anorganization is a major ethical issue in the modern workplaces.However, if the employees know it will be easy to detect suchunethical behaviors using technology, there are less likely to beinvolved in such activities. Other monitoring systems such as CCTVcan also promote morality in workplaces by avoiding physicalconfrontations. Perhaps the most important role of technology inpromoting ethical is educating employees on morality. Throughtechnology, it has become relatively easy to promote ethicalbehaviors in workplaces through training. Nonetheless, violation ofprivacy rights using technology remains one of the most importantethical concerns (Reynolds, 2014).
Inconclusion, the modern workplaces can not do without the moderntechnology. Automation of routine jobs in manufacturing industries orcomputer based technologies in offices are inevitable technologies.However, there are both positive and negative impacts of emergingtechnologies in the workplaces. The most important perspective is thewhether technology enhances productivity in workplaces. Some peoplehave argued that the advent of new technology has negative impact onlabor productivity. However, this is as a result of narrow analysisof the impact of technology on workplaces. In general, technologyresults into increased efficiency and productivity in all aspects oforganization operations. Technology has the ability to increase thecapacity of an organization and enhance the productivity of itsworkers. Another important perspective is the impact of emergingtechnology on workplace ethics. Although the most important concernhas been organizations violating the privacy rights of employeesthrough technology, the monitoring technology can promote moralityamong employees.
Breacher,C. (2015). Advancesin Production Technology,New York, NY: Springer Chan Heidelberg.
Brynjolfsson,E. & McAfee, A. (2014). Thesecond machine age: work, progress, and prosperity in a time ofbrilliant technologies,New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Chou, Y. et al. (2014).The impacts of information technology on totalfactor productivity: A look at externalities and innovations.InternationalJournal of Production Economics,158, p 290–299.
Ciocchetti,C. (2011). “The Eavesdropping Employer: A Twenty-First CenturyFramework for Employee Monitoring” AmericanBusiness Law Journal,48(2), p 285–369.
Gordon,R. J. (2012). IsU.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering innovation confronts the sixheadwinds(PDF). Center for Economic Policy Research (Policy Insight No. 63).
Reynolds,G. (2014). Ethicsin Information Technology.New York, NY. Cengage Learning.