Six characteristics of work in the digital economy

Así as at the moment the vapor machine or the telephone introduces important changes to how it works in the factories and pharmacies, the actual process of digitalization trae consigo important changes in the productivity, the opening of new mercados and an acceleration in the innovation of products and services.

These digital tools, which range from a mobile phone connected to the Internet, to Software which enables the use of artificial intelligence (AI), are driving multiple changes to the workplace, not only to take advantage of the benefits they may have on productivity, but to grant new benefits to workers who do not would no longer have to be tied to paradigms of 20th century industrialization.

In this sense, thanks to the generation of new capabilities enabled by information technologies, it is no longer necessary for a worker to be tied to a desk at a certain time, hierarchies are destroyed, a tradesman is allowed to expand beyond its geographical location, production processes are optimized and new value can be created through open and optimized data and knowledge management.

Faced with these changes that are happening spontaneously and rapidly, governments and companies have analyzed the adoption of new processes, regulations and laws to meet the challenges of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, so that the value it can bring to the economy is not limited by traditional norms and that workers can benefit both in the workplace and personally.

In Latin America, some laws such as Mexico, Chile and Colombia have already adopted new regulations that regulate and encourage the adoption of new modalities such as remote work. However, there are still cultural, regulatory and administrative challenges that limit the generation of value from digital tools.

1. Digital tools and skills are used

A growing number of countries recognize that one of the greatest challenges for the correct use of digital tools is the promotion of digital literacy, that is, that people have the knowledge necessary to operate a device correctly. or software. Software.

As more and more sectors of the economy go digital, there is a risk that new opportunities will only be limited to people who have the skills required for the new tasks of the digital economy, both in the modernization of traditional sectors as in agriculture, up to the appearance of new positions in emerging fields such as the Cloud or Artificial Intelligence.

According to an estimate by PageGroup, a personnel selection consultancy, by the end of 2022 there will be a 48% talent gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers in Latin America. In other words, for two positions created, there is only one person who can fill it.

The consultancy adds that the Latin American region needs at least 3.5 million professionals by 2025 to meet the expectations of digitalization.

2. It is done from anywhere

Given the greater availability of mobile networks, which offer greater speed and efficiency, and portable devices with greater computing capacity, access to work tasks is possible from virtually anywhere on the planet. . The presence of employees in confined physical spaces is no longer an essential condition.

According to the Work Trend Index prepared by Microsoft, the participation of hybrid workers increased by seven percentage points worldwide in 2021, reaching a total of 38%. The same study found that 51% of workers who are currently hybrid plan to fully embrace telecommuting.

3. Staff on request

trends like the crowdsourcing and the gig economy They have allowed labor demand to adapt more dynamically to market needs, allowing people to join different projects and businesses to access needed labor at the right time.

For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when multiple industries were forced to drastically reduce their operations and therefore the number of employees, the emergence of the platforms of the gig economy They were able to absorb large numbers of unemployed workers and others who needed extra income as the demand for services such as food delivery increased.

A Fedesarollo survey revealed that in 2021, more than half (53%) of employees of digital transport and delivery platforms indicated that they had joined this modality because they were excluded from the labor market, compared to 33 % reported in previous study.

It also found that while the number of partners who used them for independence or flexibility fell by 35%, those who indicated they used them to recover income or deal with calamity increased to 21%.

4. Projects are freely chosen

The gig economy It is not only present on the most well-known delivery and transport platforms, but has also started to extend its advantages towards professional and creative trades, whose bidders can now freely choose the projects to work on.

Thanks to the appearance of platforms, people are no longer limited by a certain type of work, their location or even by the exclusivity of a certain platform, now they have the free choice of the number or type of projects in which they are willing to collaborate

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center (PRC) in August 2021, 16% of Americans have done some type of work through internet platforms. gig economy. Of this total, 39% performed at least two types of jobs.

5. Flexible hours

Dozens of surveys conducted among the platform’s collaborators show that one of the main advantages they receive by offering their work under this modality is the flexibility they offer, in terms of hours, hiring or projects.

According to a survey carried out by the Colegio de México in 2020, the platform’s collaborators say that what they like the most is the flexibility (47%) and the income (28%), while only 11.4 % consider that what they like least. What he likes is the lack of job guarantees.

The PRC report also reveals that 94% of Americans find sharing economy platforms a good way to work with flexible hours, while 80% say they offer the opportunity to be “your own boss”.

Of the platforms used by freelancers, 78% of freelancers skilled teleworkers cited “flexible hours” as a top reason for being self-employed, with 73% citing location flexibility and 73% saying being self-employed freelancers allows them to do work that they find meaningful.

Even among companies with full-time or contract employees, one of the main challenges of digitizing their workforce is to provide their workers with flexibility, as this involves significant changes at the administrative level to their full use, such as performance-based systems. on the results or the adoption of an open calendar.

“Asynchronous working” describes the practice of allowing employees to set their own work hours, without being required to respond immediately, and not relying on co-workers’ schedules for submitting tasks.

However, the study Kill time at work ’22conducted by Qatalog and GitLab, warns that we continue to “respect the old rules, keep the same practices and adopt tools that allow us to continue working as before”.

The failed adoption of this practice gives rise to vices such as “digital presenteeism”, which is the pressure to demonstrate that one is available and respects traditional working hours. According to the Qatalog survey, 54% of workers said they felt some pressure to show they are online at certain times of the day.

Despite this, 65% of workers also indicated that they now have more flexibility to decide when they work, compared to their pre-pandemic hours.

6. Open and innovative

“Peer production and collaborative authoring doesn’t just happen in online communities and networks like Linux and Wikipedia. Increasingly, employees are using blogwikis and other new tools to collaborate with each other and form communities ad hoc with members of different departments and organizations,” predicted Don Tapscott in his work Wikinomics.

Innovation processes in companies were traditionally limited to the company’s own resources, whether financial, human or simply because of the secrecy that was kept about future projects.

Currently, the emergence of new platforms for using crowdsourcing this means that companies are no longer limited to their own resources. Now they can access community knowledge to solve all kinds of challenges, from evaluating a Software to the analysis of millions of data that could point to a new scientific discovery.

Several companies have already benefited from the talents of the community thanks to the crowdsourcing, where they find certain advantages such as greater freedom for collaborators by not being part of the hierarchical structure; new viewpoints are found, even in areas outside the industry or company specialty; and reduces costs and time by avoiding traditional contracting processes.

There is no doubt that Information and Communication Technologies have changed the way people work. This is not just a statement, but rather a trend that will become more acute as connectivity, digitalization, and technology adoption increase in enterprises. However, internet platforms already offer flexible and attractive ways of working, so regulation is needed that recognizes these collaborative digital economy options and business models.

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