Computers and internet access have transformed the way many people work:
- businesses rarely produce written letters or reports or use typewriters any more
- documents are more likely to be sent by email than by post or fax
- employees with laptops or smartphones can work from home or while they travel
There are positives to an employee having a computer, especially one with internet access:
- use of email and instant messenger to interact with colleagues and clients
- access a host of information online to help with research-related tasks
But there are negatives too. The internet is full of distractions and employees may prefer to play games, browse and update social networking sites or reply to personal emails and instant messages than to get on with their work.
Employers are aware of this and often block access to certain websites. These restrictions may be relaxed during lunchtime or outside of working hours.
Employment and the environment
Technology can mean that certain roles in a company are no longer required. New jobs are created but it is uncertain whether ICT has created or reduced opportunities in the long term.
Advancements in technology have had a huge impact on the entertainment industry. The growing popularity of downloading [download: To copy a file from the internet onto your computer or device.] and streaming [stream: Data that is sent in pieces. Each piece is viewed as it arrives, eg a streaming video is watched as it downloads.] content has affected the traditional supply chain [supply chain: A set of organisations that are involved in the production of a finished product.] , ie the process of getting a product made and into the hands of a consumer.
Fewer raw materials [raw material: The parts needed to assemble or create something.] are required as the demand for physical media is reduced.
Factories that produced and packaged books, magazines, CDs [CD (compact disc): A plastic, circular disc used to store up to 700 MB of music, video or data. CDs are optical storage media, similar to DVDs and Blu-ray discs.] and DVDs [DVD (digital versatile disc): A plastic, circular disc used to store up to 8.5 GB of music, video or data. DVDs are optical storage media, similar to CDs and Blu-ray discs.] have less to do.
- Packaging companies see a drop in orders.
- Delivery companies have less to deliver.
- Warehouses aren’t as full as they once were and stock management is less of a concern.
- High-street stores struggle to compete with the prices and the convenience of shopping online.
All of the above leads to fewer employees and people lose their jobs. But new jobs that require different skills have taken their place, for example:
Developers [developer: Somebody responsible for the technical creation of a piece of work, rather than the layout and structure.] and designers [designer: Somebody responsible for planning the layout or structure of a piece of work, eg a poster, a website or a computer game.] have to build the online store or website.
The server [server: A computer that holds data to be shared with other computers. A webserver stores and shares websites.] that the website runs on needs to be built and supplied.
- The content needs adding to the server.
- All of the information about a song, album or movie must be entered into the website’s database.
- The server and website must be maintained.
All of these jobs require an employee to have advanced IT skills. This is true of many jobs today in the Technology industry and many employees undergo extensive retraining to enable them to remain in work.
ICT can benefit the environment, for example it has given people the option to work from home, reducing the need to travel into work. However, it can have a negative impact. Disposing of old equipment is a particular problem. One of the answers is recycling [recycling: Taking unused or unwanted items and reusing them.] and the law states that companies must recycle their old equipment.
It’s important to wipe any sensitive or personal information from a computer before disposing of it. There are companies that provide this service.