The 21st century workplace is being shaped by ever-changing technological innovations, shilling demographic patterns, globalization and power shifts, in addition to different economic players such as policymakers, employers, education and training institutions that shape the quality of the future workforce. In today's work environment, organizations are not only relying on technological innovations, but also on new Internet communications technologies, altered working practices, and improved training of the workforce to improve profits as well as worker productivity.
Organizations operating in this environment are increasingly having a Web presence organizing their services and goods around electronic commerce culture. Working in the 21st century organization will require workers who are competent in using technologies and have a range of skills and expertise to work on common projects. This work environment is giving birth to project teams distributed all over the world that are formed and disbanded as old tasks are completed and new ones identified. In such environments task involvement may last for as little as a day, up to a week, or longer depending on the magnitude of the project.
Productivity and the Workplace
The 21st century workplace is one that is driven by technology, and its success is noted by productivity growth and the employment rates of its citizenry. Therefore, the affiliation between productivity, technological innovations, and the creation of job opportunities is clear-cut for any organization that seeks to be a key player in its business operations. According to Kudyba and Diwan (2002), productivity generally involves economic efficiency; in the business world it refers to generating value-added output through efficient utilization of resources. Generally, an organization's economic success is measured by its output productivity in addition to its workforce efficiency.
Some strategies that have been noted to increase workforce productivity include but are not limited to, (a) capital accumulation through investments, (b) innovative efforts, (c) invitations of world-class practices, (d) enhanced division of work, (e) development of physical and social infrastructure, (f) higher levels of education, and (g) a higher involvement and motivation of workers in the production processes (Kopelman, 1986). In the midst of all strategies geared to enhancing productivity of the workforce, it has been noted that communication is an important clement in the equation.
Social Net Communities and Worker Productivity
Today, social networks and net communities support the disintegration of the vertical structure of 20th century organizations. Consequently, this has allowed coordination across geographically dispersed entities connected through electronic networks. Work products, data and information can be transmitted rapidly and inexpensively, eliminating the need for hierarchical coordination structures. Therefore, individuals who work for these organizations are adapting and constantly learning and applying news ways of streamlining new Internet communication technologies to meet their professional and personal needs. These technologies are now the bedrock of virtual communities formed through social networks.
Social communities help their users discover, extend, manage and leverage professional and personal experiences online. Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, LinkedIn, Perfspot, Twitter, Orkut, etc., are slowly being embraced and interwoven into the workplace fabric, significantly affecting the scope and nature of doing business on a global level, while introducing new opportunities and bringing markets to your desktop. Building on the work of David Teten, who wrote Virtual HANDSHAKE: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, most social networks could be categorized into two groups--the individual and the enterprise as indicated in figure 1 (page 40), as cited by Reid (2007). …