As business operations move from industrialism to post-industrialism and from Fordism to post-Fordism, several challenges come about as a result of globalization. Ability of firms to operate in a global scale has immensely changed modes of operations and nature of work of organizations. The global market governs and dictates the way corporations think and the manner in which they treat their workers. Globalization implies arbitrariness in the workplace, increasingly widening gap between the rich and the poor, pervading threats and ease of employee termination, the rise of superstar Chief Executive Officers and awakening of job insecurity and job loss. Technological advancements, especially in the field of telecommunication, has helped spur globalization to a whole, new level. Technology that has been an inspiration to the perceived development in realization of global firms comes with its challenges. Techno-stress is the new form of nightmare to millions of employees. In addition, there is the problem of home-work balance that employees all over the world have to cope with. This work labors to find the relationship between globalization, techno-stress and home-work balance.
Before exploring the aspect of globalization, it would be first wise to dissect the concept of Fordism; the father of globalization. This term is accredited to Henry Ford and the principles of production he propagated. Ford campaigned for mass production of uniform goods, unvarying work routines, rigid production technologies like assembly lines and increasing firm productivity through economies of large scale. He believed in deskilling and intensification of productions. The ideas and principles of Ford began losing meaning and declining in 1970s. Post-Fordism took control of the market and posed different principles and production ideals. The new principles advocated for consumer paying more for higher quality, shorter production runs, flexible management, flexible production and capable workers with greater responsibility and autonomy than before. Further, the Post-Fordism advocated for greater differentiation in workplace and the society, growing interests in customized products and declining interest in mass production.
In addition to the market’s movement from Fordism to Post-Fordism, there is also an evident paradigm shift from industrialization to post-industrial world. There is a shift in focus from producing goods such as automobiles and steel to production of services such as healthcare and food. Further, the post-industrial world has immense increase in speed of information processing and knowledge sharing. Technicians, scientists and inventors are growing in importance and numbers. Knowledgeable workers have taken over the roles and responsibilities of routine oriented workers.
Post industrial firms have distinct characteristics from what existed before. There is blurring of boundaries between firms. Several firms tend to operate as one, and the distinct boundaries that existed before between competing forms no longer exist. Furthermore, there is flattening of hierarchy at workplace. In the olden days, there were sharp differences between different ranked workers of a firm. This sharp distinction no longer exists. Organization structures of post industrialized world are less specialized but more integrated. There is laxity in formation of rules that govern employees. These are evident in the dressing patterns and work scheduling of today’s corporations. Additionally, post-industrial corporations select their employees based on their potential for creativity rather than academic and work experiences. Today’s firms have customized work and products.
Globalization has brought about several results in the field of commerce and trade. Within the two decades that were core to globalization of business operations, firms have received a boost from expanded markets. From the business perspective, globalization is a magic expander of markets. Businesses that could only sell their products to domestic markets get access to markets of other countries because of global connections. Globalization is a process that has taken ages to reach its current status. In the earlier days, countries that fell under the rule of communism could only use products of the communist countries. The fall of Berlin Wall was a crucial step towards globalization. The countries that had barriers could thereafter access automobile products of other countries of the world. Likewise, globalization continues to expand the markets for goods and services in all parts of the world. There is no trade barrier. This encourages production and profitability of firms.
In addition to expanded markets, globalization leads to access of cheaper resources. Bilateral trade agreements are the building blocks of such essential access to cheap raw materials, labor and capital. An example of trade agreement that became fundamental to access of cheap resources is that between People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world. Until 1990, the People’s Republic of China had closed its doors to international trade. Several American companies produced their goods locally or opted for areas of the world with less expensive labor. Upon opening its doors to international trade, American companies found refuge in the cheap labor available in China. They took advantage of the relatively cheaper labor and reduced their costs of production by engaging the Chinese workforce in outsourcing. Cheaper labor leads to cheaper costs of production. This in turn leads to higher profitability. These advantages pass down to the consumers in reduced price of products and cheaper livelihood.
International development is the other consequence of globalization. This arises as a result of both expanded markets as and cheaper markets. An excellent example of countries that have developed as a result of globalization is India. Information technology in India was in its infancy stage in the late 1990s. Educated yet inexpensive workforce in the country made investors to see a future in the country’s ability to be the hub of information technology production. Foreign companies started subsidiaries of high tech activities in metropolis like Bangalore. The technological knowhow spread to the local firms within India. The spiral effect of this growth took root in India and spread to the rest of the world.
Growth of multinationals in the globalized commerce environment does not only impact positively on the workforce and target markets. In addition to the positive contributions highlighted above, there are several negative impacts of globalization. Among these is the moral decadence that comes with advanced information communication technology. The world has become a global village and moral degradation of one part of the world spills to another part in a matter of seconds. There are vices related to cyber crime. There is no longer privacy of information. Firms are at a constant threat of losing their confidential information to hackers.
People’s privacy is no longer secure. Advanced and convenient modes of payment that come with global trade have also come with security hitches. Phishing and spear phishing are some of the cyber crimes that place the security of individuals and firms at risk. Several occasions have been reposted of people losing their moneys in banks. In the social arena, there is child sex molestation that accompanies the revered information technology. Moral decay as a result of passing pornographic material in chat sites has become the order of the day. In the business sense, technology has created a phenomenon commonly referred to as techno-stress.
Techno-stress refers to the negative psychological connection between people and introduction of novel technologies in their working environment. It is the people’s reaction to technology and how they change towards these introductions. The past two decades have seen the most notable development of technology in the history of mankind. As a result, several people have developed the characteristics of techno-stress in their families, work palace and personal lives. People are in perpetual change due to technologies that aid their daily lives. These changes are never in the best interest of people’s social, emotional or physical lives.
While some of the ramifications of the abrupt influx of technology in populace’s lives are subtle, some are quite blatant. People have resorted to diminishing the capabilities of their own intelligence in favor of technology. People continually feel less able and incapable of performing tasks due to machines. In addition, machines enables people do a lot within a short time. Individuals are often misled into assuming they have the potential to do more than they can actually achieve with the machines. The result is a feeling of overwhelm and unfinished, unfulfilled desires. People feel invaded by technology on all fronts of life. The beeps of pagers, ringtones of phones, incoming faxes and hooting of cars is a constant reminder of the important part technology has taken on people’s lives. People tote their laptops during their vacations and their bosses expect them to carry their work pagers with them even during their personal times. The personal and work boundaries have become blurred and life is stressful.
Years of research reveal that about 85% of people are not comfortable with technology. The other 15% that detests they are comfortable with technology become frustrated, intimidated and distressed by technology in many ways. The stress goes beyond the internet and computers. People can no longer live in the society and avoid bumping into technology. Technology is everywhere, whether one purchases it or not. Techno-stress is the reaction to an omnipresent technology, and everyone is experiencing the stress.
Techno-stress has several symptoms that are evident in almost everyone in the world today. Technology allows people to do several things at the same time. For example, one could be at home talking to a friend on cellular phone, warming food in the microwave, do a load of laundry, and print a document all at the same time. One’s brain becomes overloaded. The result of this is called multi-tasking madness. Multi tasking madness is a symptom that exhibits itself all around every day. People have fallen into the trap of doing things for the mere reason that they can do it rather than performing tasks because there is need to do them. People have increasingly become unable to think clearly. They cannot have peaceful night rest because of techno-stress. Humanity has become forgetful since stimulation from the work overload keeps their brains working overtime.
Other than the effects of technology on personal and work environment, technology has invaded homes too. Every member of a family is usually trapped in his own techno-cocoon. There are no more bonds that used to exist in families. In the traditional societies, families would spend the evening sharing their experiences of the day. Evenings and times outside workplace were special bonding moments for all family members. In the current society invaded by technology, everyone is usually in a microenvironment with his technological gadget.
For example, a contemporary mother would be preparing dinner with her head glued to a portable phone answering calls as she checks an answering machine. The youngest child could be playing Nintendo, the other playing computer games in his bedroom as the first borne answers a call in her bedroom. Their father comes late from work and heads immediately to his computer. The children seem to know way so much about computers that their parents feel intimidated and insufficient. There is loss of communication in many families today. In addition, there is a major shift in power balance. There is no bond due to techno-stress. Children lack proper upbringing with the love they deserve. All the parental love goes to devices and their attention replaced by machines.
Communication technology and computers have provided humanity with many options of getting work done. It is paradoxical that people still feel inundated by technology. Studies show that employees suffer interruption by electronic communication equipment no fewer than three times an hour. Concentration and effectiveness of these employees suffer. Employees suffer intimidation by the pace at which their employers expect them to adapt to new technologies. Even in the event that one has mastered the working of one computer program, employers expect them to learn other alternative programs with better capabilities. They never get enough time to learn the new systems. Instead, they often get through a vigorous 8-hour training seminar to prepare for transitions. Heads pound and eyes daze in the rushing process of having to learn the new systems. Further, workers suffer a syndrome referred to as information fatigue syndrome. Their employees expect them to read and understand more information than can be understood in a lifetime. These are the stresses that come with technology.
Technology has made juggling the balance between career and personal life a heavy task. Globalization has cussed several companies to slash down their workforce in favor of business process outsourcing. The survivors of rampant restructuring of firms and retrenchments have to perform excellently to remain relevant to the dreams of the company. Achieving the work-life balance often seems like an impossible goal. People often want to do too much with too little time. They do not have the power to decide which of the activities they involve themselves in is most important, and which of the activities need to be discarded.
After years of research, researchers have come up with some viable steps to follow in order for one to ensure he balances the demands of home and career. First, researchers advise that employees need to learn their employees’ policies. This is in a bid to negotiate a time schedule that works best for both the employer and employee. Employees need to communicate. Proper communication enables one relay to his employer and colleagues the times he has family issues to attend. Proper communication gains the support of both the employer and colleagues. Further, employees should use technology to their own advantage. They should understand that it is in the interest of their families to ban communication with their employers at times.
Telecommuting could also help an employee free up valuable hours and use the extra hours in meeting the needs of the family and personal responsibilities. Employees need to further understand that they have the right to say “ No”. They should respectfully decline extra work responsibilities to create time for their families and personal commitments. Stopping doing things out of guilt enables one to find time for the things he truly enjoys. Additionally, employees should learn to fight guilt. They need to understand that no one is perfect and cannot completely devote to their courses. When called upon by pressing family matters, they need to postpone company extra duties to serve what truly matters. Further, employees need to rethink their idea on outsourcing their home chores to others in order to create more time for themselves and their families. The most fundamental thing is one to protect his private time. One needs to keep off thoughts of job while with the family or on a vacation. Unless one does this, he becomes too burdened to appreciate life.
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