For years and years, and since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, workers had only had one work scenario: Report to work at 9:00 AM, do the tasks assigned by your direct manager, and leave at 5:00 PM.
The advent of the Internet, and especially the recent proliferation of mobile data, have brought about another revolution, which we wouldn’t call the Information Revolution. That has taken its course since the invention of the first computer. It is handing over the keys to something new and disturbing. A combination of multimedia communication anytime, anywhere, social media, broadband network coverage, and devices that can handle unthinkable amounts of data in real-time, have made it possible for a new phenomenon to emerge: The Digital Worker.
The dynamics of ‘work’ have dramatically changed for a large sector of the workforce.
The ‘Digital Worker’ no longer needs to report to work at 9:00 AM and leave at 5:00 PM. He/she does not even need a traditional workspace: An office, a cubicale, or even a desk. All they need is a ‘machine’ and an Internet connection. Hence the new terminology: Anywhere, Anytime.
Teams can meet virtually. Projects may have members in Iceland, South Africa, India, Canada, or South Korea. And those are just examples to convey what ‘anywhere, anytime’ looks like.
How about products and services? Physical products that consumers request. How can that be achieved digitally?
A new e-Commerce model has emerged, which is called drop-shipping. The Digital Worker runs an online ‘store,’ which show products’ images, specs, videos, prices, and of course, digital cart and checkout facilities.
Customers place orders right at the digital store. In the background, suppliers receive those orders automatically, once placed, process and fulfill them on behalf of the Digital Worker, right to the customer’s doorstep. Read more about this model in a previous TWM post: How to Choose the Right Product.
To offer a service, Digital Workers must be highly innovative. Let’s take medicine as an extreme example, which has always required the physical co-presence of the patient and the heathcare provider.
Well, that is no longer a rigid requirement. Telemedicine has soften that need by allowing doctors and patients to communicate virtually, in realtime. Physicians can diagnose and prescribe remotely. On the farside of the spectrum, a surgeon would perform an operation via telemedicine, using virtual reality and robotics technologies. You can read more about telemedicine in a previous WTM article: Reaching Out to Patients: Telemedicine.
It is hard to comprehensively cover all aspects of The Digital Worker’s attributes, work environment, rewards and challenges, in one article.
In the next post, we will explore with you the last two aspecs mentioned above: Rewards and challenges.
© Image Credit: Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash