According to Ofcom, 4G mobile broadband will be rolled out to at least 98% of the UK population by 2017. TMobile and Orange, now united as Everything Everywhere (keep up!), were just given approval to run 4G services from next month, which has upset the other Service Providers who will have to wait until the industry wide auction happens next year. 4G broadband networks will be 10x faster than existing 3G with speeds up to 20Mbps.
What does all this mean! When the bids were held for 3G around 2000, I struggled to understand what it was for – surely all we wanted from a mobile phone was for it to be a phone. Now of course, it’s a ubiquitous computing device and tool for life.
People as well as organisations are struggling to keep up, and even Facebook’s more recent troubles are about how to grow their revenues in this smartphone-centric environment. The once dominant Japanese tech companies had bet on the TV as the dominant device of our age, but that is now all so last year.
We in HR are experimenting in how to use these different channels to communicate with our present and potential employees. This sort of technology infrastructure also enables more flexible working with more opportunity for mobile and remote working. This in turn allows us to access and give opportunity to a larger and more diverse workforce, such as homeworkers, and to retain people we might otherwise lose.
However, we will have to be able to adapt working practices, and understand our obligations and liabilities for a more remote workforce. For example, how we communicate with and align our people, fairly assess performance, and even compensation and reward practices.
It should all start with taking a broader look at workforce planning and thinking about how the business can benefit in exploiting these opportunities in a more strategic way.
The good news is help is at hand. Just ask your Gen-Y employees for their ideas and they’ll be happy to oblige – time for some reverse mentoring.
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Peter, seems to me that the HR community have a huge job to do in helping workforces take full advantage of the new technology tools that are coming into the World of work....many of which will need substantial changes in behaviour and attitudes for organisations to takle maimum value from them.
24 Aug, 2012 18:13
Peter is right to note that we in HR will have to be able to adapt working practices. Before we get to this operational stage, we will, however need to tackle more strategic issues around workplace cultures. Specifically, we will need to identify and address outmoded assumptions and entrenched working practices.
By outmoded assumptions I mean, for example:
“the number of hours you are seen to be working directly reflects the results produced” and
“people wanting a balanced life through flexible working arrangements are less committed to their career and poorer employees”.
In terms of entrenched practices, the two most obvious examples are the amount of time people are expected to spend in often unnecessary meetings; and the “fire drill” requests for information/action which are often the result of poor planning.
Before we embrace the benefits of 4G technologies we need to ask ourselves whether our organisations are culturally ready for this new way of working.
29 Aug, 2012 11:14
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