Réseau d'Activités à Distance


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New Work Opportunities

Offered by the Information Society.

Contributions during December 1996

Discussion of the relationship between new technology, work and jobs. The purpose of the list is to develop input to the current political debate in Europe about the Information Society.

On 1-12-96

Better match between offer and demand.. factors:

Factors effecting the perception of quality :

To improve these factors:

On 4-12-96

New work opportunities

Answer to Alan's resume

0. Traditional employees

Home/Office/Transport way of life.

Reduced time at work, reduced wages, lower price purchase, "do-it-yourself" at home during an increased time.

Few works created, sustained market for cars, do-it-yourself and gardening

Repetitive and standardized tasks for mass-produced and standardized products and services.

1. Employees doing teleworking. (transitional group)

Restructuring.. does not lead to new work opportunities

Jobs created for other people in assisting this move to teleworking:

2. Independent teleworkers.

This involves the creation of new markets (SoHo) which include:

-new forms of trading (teletrade, )

-new forms of distribution (just-in-time, )

-new forms of marketing (web sites, )

-high quality content (

-sorting and screening information (object oriented terminology, )

-services to large companies (outsourcing, webwatcher, archivist, researcher, )

-providing advice (web sites, e-mail, )

-services to the population (medical, paramedical, training, telecooperation, )

3. Related work

work opportunities to create things that don't necessarily exist at the moment:

-specific software development (really object oriented design, standardized data, )

-hardware development (high quality, fault tolerant, )

-infrastructure development (optic fiber, home-office equipment, cellular-phone, )

-maintenance (telemaintenance, autodiagnostic, modularity, )

-advice (short delay, )

-specialised social work (working at home, telecooperation, tele-assistance, )

-new forms of insurance and welfare systems.

-proximity work for the do-it-by-specialist population (artisan, )

-hotel trade for nomad workers (connected rooms, maintenance, )

On 4-12-96

New work opportunities

Principal Causes in Work Changes

1. Inside the Industrial Activity

Concurrent engineering. Simultaneous Design of Product, Process and Use. 3D CadCam modeling. Virtual Reality. Virtual Components Electronic Catalogue. Increasing separation between Design, Production and Trade allowed by virtual reality, automated production and personalized marketing.

2. Information Distribution along the World Wide Web

Scientific Information distributed via World Wide Web.

Legal (laws, rules) Information distributed via World Wide Web.

3. Knowledge acquisition

3.0. For traditional employees

Enterprise Knowledge Encyclopedia (Relational Data Dase)

To control the training process of permanent employees to the skills, informations, behaviours and knowledges considered to be the core of the company.

3.1. For employees doing teleworking

Partnership Virtual Encyclopedia (Hypertextual Cyber Base) shared inside a common project.

3.2. For independent teleworkers.

Scientific and Business Community Virtual Encyclopedia (Hypertextual Cyber Base)

Normalized terminology (thesaurus, domain, context) for information sharing

Normalized Object (designed for user and not only for programming)

-specific software development (really object oriented design, standardized data, open text research, conceptual recognition, )

-linguistic recognition software

3.3. For renewed kinds of work.

Standardized, automated devices, etc.

On 5-12-96

Competing globally

Mike Curtis wrote: << The fact that success in gaining markets will cause a demand for higher standards of living and increased costs in the future is far too long term. >>

Certainly. The job transfert caused by differences between labor prices, would be reduced by development in the low wage zone and increased unemployment in the high wage zone. But the balance mechanism is too long. We have to build another strategy. We have better to adjust our value added to our wages than to adjust our wages to those in Moscow or Indonesia. Probably Dino (and each of us) has to add value by his work and not only by transportation of wares. If unskilled labor intensive products are produced abroad, we have to improve our local production of value. Let us choose knowledge intensive production, whose costs of transportation will be really cheaper thanks to internet. This first choice implies a second. In order to use high skill, don't collect them only locally. We may use them where they are, with telework. So, it is not very important, for Dino, if he want to improve Italian PNB, to sell Italian products, but high value products. Sometimes, a national way of thinking gives the opposite results.

Mike Curtis wrote: << The costs of transportation.. are never properly calculated;.. if the costs included a fair amount for cleaning up the environment, .. etc, then it would not end up being much cheaper to transport these commodities half way round the world. >>

This, too, will take a long time. What about the Eco-Tax European Project? While putting the pressure for the adoption of "sustainable development" about material activity, we may introduce very ecologic activities based upon knowledge.

<< transportation costs are calculated fairly then teleworkers benefit directly because.. teleworking jobs and opportunities will become available.. also.. retaining local production of raw materials. >>

We may develop knowledge teleworking largely before obtaining this second effect upon raw materials.

On 9-12-96

Second topic

Alan Mc Cluskey asked: << 1. Do these new work opportunities imply a new paradign? >>

In any case, a "Total Quality" paradigm, by an increased dialogue with the customer.

<< increased transparency >>

A larger dialogue between services inside the company, even for traditional workers. This will be a condition to work in partnership and to build virtual teams.

<< new ways of thinking (networked thinking) >>

For all the teleworkers (employee, free-lance). A virtual team is based on a free choice of all the partners. This is not the case when commuting.

<< new forms of "packaging" work >>

Especially for virtual teams. The coordinator will not be the chief but the data base or Lotus Notes. Every one will become a co-animator.

Second topic: 1. new paradigm

<< Do these new work opportunities imply a new paradigm? >>

Yes. In any case, a "Total Quality" paradigm.

Perhaps would it be usefull to distinguish:

The "Total Quality" paradigm requires a larger dialogue between services inside the company. This concerns the flow of data (data bases) and information (documents) in order to transform the purchase orders into deliverable products. This concerns too the ability to self-organization, in small teams. Rules and constraints, yesterday embodied in the management people, will be increasingly internalized in the mental representations and values of workers. The managers will have to understand their "customers-workers".

The "Total Quality" paradigm requires an increased dialogue with the final customer and user. Here is one of the major needs for knowledge. This is the cause of the new paradigm. This is not an objective information like laws or rules are. This is a subjective knowledge, inside the brain of the customer. This will imply new kind of dialogue with the customer far before his purchasing action. This will imply new languages and new software in the computers, when the customer is also a sotware user.

Second topic: 2. kind of relationship

<< What kind of relationship will there be with the "work-giver"/payer? >>

In the case of teleworking, the geographical distance, by itself, requires more autonomy to surmount the loneliness feeling described by some experts. This gives a new kind of relationship. But we have to prove the necessity of "teleworking". One more time, it seems that the organization of work will be modified by an increased attention paid to the final customer. This is not the end of mass-production. This is the beginning of a new king of mass-production. A flexible workshop is designed for rapid changes in a just-in-time mass-production. This just-in-time production implies a close cooperation between agents belonging to different companies. Commuters, teleworkers or employees commuting to an office of another company, most of them will be in a permanent dialogue with geographically distant partners. This is a deep decline of the gregarian workshop-culture. This is the rise of a new distant, flexible, network-culture. In this figurate sense, many people will become "teleworkers". Instead of being "stay-at-home" they become nomads in their mind. This is the reason why: << autonomy of work >> will be a major fact and a psychological requisit. Creating, in an indirect way, new work opportunities in social and psychological training. Instead of obeing to a present chief giving an accurate and immediate order, many workers will have to manage a solution in a field of constraints, in order to optimize the joint-result for a set of partners.

On 10-12-96

Second topic: 3. specific nature

<< What is the specific nature of the project for it to be a success? >>

In a next step of our discussion, we'll have to distinguish many concrete situations. At this general level we may suppose that the Information Society project will be a success if it improves the global productivity of the Industrial Society inside which it appears. Just an example. A CAD-CAM device replace a drawing table. His cost is largely more important (hardware, software, training, adaptation). In order to improve the user-friendly interface of the CAD-CAM software, we need a very deep dialogue with the user (designer). This dialogue is very costly. If, globaly, the replacement of the drawing table by the CAD-CAM environment is not profitable, all this Information Society will make us poorer. It's the reason why it's so important to give a good definition of this Information Society, via the list of chained transformation we can imagine.

On 10-12-96

Second topic: 4. global and local aspects

<< What will be the relationship between global and local aspects of this work? >>

In the classical theory of markets every seller is a drop in the "Offer" ocean and every buyer a drop in the "Demand" ocean. Globality is an infinite ocean. Locality is an undifferenciated agent, called homo oeconomicus. Probably this vision will become prehistoric.

<< globalisation means selling to whole market >>

This is not an infinite, abstract one, but a real World Organization (General Agreement on Tarifs and Trade)

<< modified concept of what "local" implies >>

The local agent is no more a rational unity. After Freud, Saussure, Lacan... the agent and his rationality are divided and contradictories. The company is no more a unity. Her boundaries are not precise, stable, fixed. The concept of "extended enterprise" is likely more usefull. The company is a network or belons to a network. The larger, the most inclusive one, is the world wide market. Each national monopole is deregulated, but the world market is regulated by this unregulation rule. When a European Commissionner forbids a merger between to european aeronautics companies this is not the infinite ocean force but a rule in a real, administred, market.

Local do not means "unity" but set of relations, sometimes contradictories.

Global do not means "infinite, abstract field" but field of constraints, rules and connexions.

On 15-12-96

New work opportunities

Horace Mitchell wrote:<< I also suspect our personal thinking is deeply coloured by our immediate experiences, >>

Certainly. Our situations and our purposes are not the same. It's a chance for the discussion.

<< If you have locally 25% unemployment you will feel differently about the Information Society compared with someone who has locally 5% unemployment or less. >>

It's not only a difference, but a structure. Like said Dino, differences create a movement.

<< But it's local circumstances that are different, not the Information Society. >>

This formulation seems to indicate that, in any case, the same I. S. will happen. I would be surprised to learn that you think to the Ultime Stage of Communism or your Friend's Kindom. I'm suspicious of the Invisible Hand (Adam Smith) driving a sum of short term decisions to the equilibrium in the best of the worlds. Probably the distinction between short, medium and long term belongs to the classical equilibrium theory. In my opinion, real economy has a fractal structure and is movement is a chaos. (but chaos is not the apocalypse, we have a future)

<< Given that there is no shortage of work overall, perhaps we should at some stage of this discussion focus on what are the differences in local circumstances that lead one place to 5% unemployment and another place to 25%?>>

This discussion seems usefull, at a further stage.

<< Short term we have little choice but to react to the 25% problem or the 5% problem >>

Loccaly, the reactions will not be the same. This fact will produce other differences and a new movement.

<< Longer term... to make the 25% place a bit more like the 5% place? >>

People in the 25% place will not wait "Goddot" up to the long term (see Keynes)

<< I'm suspicious of solutions that depend on changing how society works, >>

I agree, but I would better write: "I'm suspicious of solutions that depend on changing how homo sapiens is ". Because, litteraly, I am sure there are changes in the way society works.;-)

These changes are those who distinguish Slavery, Feudalism, Communism, Capitalism, or even Industrial Society and Information Society, our topic.

On 24-12-96

Actual comportment or desired values?

Certainly, these new characteristics are contrary to the gregarian way of working. But they grow inside the large companies with the project management and partnership. This is based upon my own experience, described in:


But this new organization is attested by many experts. Michel Crozier "L'entreprise a l'ecoute", Collectif/ Gerard Blanc "Le travail au XXI siecle", Philippe Zarifian "Travail et Communication" and ECOSIP (20 experts, including myself) writing a collective book related to the designing activity.

I have worked such a way. The reason is the need for reducing risk and uncertaincy. The mean is an exchange of information and knowledge. The result his a large gain of time, and a better view of what is possible. The principal difficulty is what you called "contrary to current ways of working".

In 1971, Michel Crozier wrote a book called "The Blocked Society". Some years ago, he wrote: it seems our society (France) is used to block herself every 25 years.

On 24-12-96

Gregarian way of working

It seems that what is called "Enterprise Culture" is not monolithic but contradictory. We may distinguish 3 componants:

Michel Crozier says that trade-union and human ressources directory speak the same language, in an opposite way. Geert Jacobs explained that in a very large company, it was impossible to enrole somebody if he was not well-known by someone in the serail. Actually, with the fear of unemployment, the gregarian way of work is very important. This gives a very low productivity in many services. The externalization movement is a result

< trust.. a very important aspect of the new work paradigm >

This trust building is the most important activity on the knowledge facet. This is my day after day activity, by e-mail, on the Network for Remote Activities. A "new" unemployed person have to build a new trust in themself. The confidential discussion with a "coach" is very important. It's necessary to wave lost job goodbye. The previous gregarian spirit is definitely lost. They have to built another belonging or membership feeling. The network inside with they exchange opinions, informations, advices and services is an important tool. The trust in themself and the trust in the others are built in the same movement. This kind of activity is really something new. The psychological proximity in spite of/thanks to the geographical distance is a componant of a new way of work/life. The first results are very encouraging.

On 24-12-96


<<...distance, by itself, requires more autonomy to surmount the loneliness>>

Autonomy is not an attribute of your pocket computer or mobil-phone, but a psychological requisit to be a teleworker. Loneliness is not a problem for me. I'm an happy teleworker. Loneliness is largely invoked by experts from large companies (IBM, Bull). Yesterday, there was a new paper on this subject in "Teletravail Magazine". This is a problem from the gregarion point of view: when telework is seen has a way to broke the solidarity among employees. I think this is not a good strategy for the employer. I agree with Horace: a good teleworker is a deliberate teleworker. A good teleworking is a voluntary one. To my opinion, the most important (not by the number) telework will be an independant activity. Another interesting fact. "Teletravail Magazine" has interviewed Jacques Attali and Joel de Rosnay. Every one said that "Teletravail/telework" is not the good word for their thoughts. Joel de Rosnay proposed "activité à distance"/remote activity, in which the difference beetwing work time and other activities tends to be reduced.

On 24-12-96

Global and local

<<Local does not mean "unity" but set of relations, sometimes contradictories. Global does not mean "infinite, abstract field" but field of constraints, rules and connexions.>>

The world wide marked was created by the war of fighting nations and then the competition of large companies. Today, this industrial market exist. It's not perfect, neither optimal, but it exists and functions without any competitor (except the islamic charia?)

The finished world begins. Geographically, on the earth, there is no more space to conquer. The reality becomes more and more restricting. The space is no more a tabula rasa to conquer or to build but a complex network of rules and constraints. This is not philosophical. This is the problem of a large company having to develop and renewal a large and complex catalogue of compatible products all around the world.

A man, a service, a compagny is no more a sphere (Leibnitz, unity, monade) growing in a nude spheric space. The relation between local and global is no more the embodiment of small spheres into large spheres. This relation is a network relation.

The sphere becomes a neuron. A neuron is connected both in proximity (dendrits) and at a distance, via his axone. The gregarian way of work was "Taylored" (excuse me, it was too easy) for similar spheres belonging to the same inclusive sphere. All the external things and thoughts were "not invented there" and so, bad. The new worker, as a neuron, will have numerous belonging networks. His gregarian feeling will be (slowly) replaced by a slowly, hardly built confidence into himself and his partners.

On 24-12-96

Global market?

Alan, I try to separate your questions to get shorter messages;-))

< Will the market ever be global? I sincerely doubt it! >

As a mathematician teacher perhaps will you never know a world wide market. As a video producer I wishe you will know a global success in this market. If you were a manager in a large industrial company you will have not any doubt. Your catalogue will be the world wide reference or you will be absorbed or dependant. Perhaps a rich dependant? The Information technologies allow us to communicate all around the world. This don't mean "communicate with everybody". On the other list, ETODL, Mike Curtis proposed the concept of "virtual region". All people concerned by Scottish Highlands will be able to interconnect themselves. This is not a world wide continuous and homogeneous market but a world wide discontinuous network. We have to distinguish the Industrial Facet and the Knowledge Facet of the Information Society. The world wide market concerns the industrial facet. This market is a field, more and more homogeneous, from the exchange value (price) point of view, thanks to arbitragists. This increasing homegeneity will allow an improving compatibility of the engines and tools. (usage value) Telephones, computers, trains, cars, TV sets, ... will be more and more compatible in order to communicate automatically between them. The world wide network (e.g. WWW) allow a linguistic and psychological proximity with other peoples, geographically distant, but interested by the same topics. The same technological network (belonging to the continuous field of the market) allow the constitution of many groups for many topics. Probably, will there be the network for Alan McCluskey's mathematics? These topic-networks will be interconnected by the people belonging to many networks and doing their own synthesis in their brain (locally).

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Horace Mitchell

Jalla, Jack M. Nilles

Alan Mc Cluskey

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