The integration of new technologies is reshaping how work functions within organizations, an evolution that’s been ongoing for ages. Essentially, there are two significant changes: enhancing workers’ capabilities to perform tasks more effectively or efficiently (augmentation), and the replacement of tasks or even workers through automation or robotics. These changes not only directly impact staff duties but also necessitate alterations in the organization’s operational structure.

Historically, a distinction existed between factory and office work, or between blue and white-collar workers. The advent of new machines and robots rendered many factory workers redundant, with these technologies able to accomplish more work in less time. Simultaneously, office work expanded to sustain and manage these machines and robots. A robot capable of working 24/7 requires continuous material input and energy to function. The logistics of sourcing raw materials, procurement, transportation, storage, and navigating international imports fall under office work. Managing rules, regulations, and bureaucracy largely involves data transfer and information sharing.

Emerging technologies such as algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence streamline bureaucratic processes and office work associated with logistics. While hurdles in information flow persist, there are growing solutions to mitigate these obstacles, notably interface issues between systems requiring manual data entry. Despite abundant information availability, many forms still exist to gather data redundantly for the next process step. Fortunately, solutions addressing interface and information transfer problems are now available.

The challenge, often faced by most organizations, lies in addressing existing workplace cultures and behaviors. Many roles involve transferring information between systems and processes, although their titles might suggest more significant responsibilities like management. Workers handling tasks that might become obsolete play pivotal roles in discussions around automation and process changes. Organizations resist change when traditional structures persist due to tradition or fear of losing status.

The future of office work hinges on the ongoing conflict between traditional information flow concepts and attitudes and the novel opportunities presented by information technology. Adapting to this evolving landscape necessitates overcoming entrenched mindsets, embracing change, and leveraging technology’s transformative potential.