Applications of ICT - Workplace Efficiency
Many of the key uses of ICT in the office will be familiar to A-level students from their own experience – in particular, the Microsoft Office ® suite of software including; word processor, database, spreadsheet, presentation, email etc.
Offices and many other workplaces typically have networked PCs with centralised databases and high-speed Internet connections – just as seen in modern schools, except that most users would each have their own desktop or laptop computer.
Increasingly, the majority of office workers have company email accounts available on their desktop PC. This provides a cheap and fast means of communication within the company and with customers and suppliers.
Possible areas for discussion include; wasting time on non-company business, and, susceptibility to virus attacks.
Refer also to your notes about communications and remember, not everyone checks his or her email regularly.
Word processing and Desktop Publishing (DTP)
Word processing has taken over from typing in most workplaces, and means that many – if not most - office workers now create their own letters and documents, rather than pass written notes or a voice recording to typists.
More sophisticated DTP software with graphics capability means that brochures, newsletters, pricelists and other official documents can easily be produced ‘in-house’, rather than having to pass the work to an outside agency.
Some of the above solutions, combined with relatively cheap desktop and notebook PCs and widely available broadband and connections, mean that many workers can do at least part of their job remotely. In some cases, this means workers working from home or when away on business (or ‘holiday’!).
Teleworking can help provide practical ways of offering more flexible working conditions. This means that many people can work who would find it hard to manage regular office hours. In turn, this can widen the available pool of experienced and qualified staff – such as people with childcare commitments, other carers and the disabled.
Teleworking is also the key to outsourcing call centre and other office work to overseas centres such as India, where there is an abundance of low cost, well-qualified staff and a good infrastructure.
Rather than store correspondence and other documents in paper form, they can be scanned and stored electronically for instant retrieval from anywhere on a company’s network. This can dramatically reduce the cost of storing and managing paper files, although one only has to visit a typical office to see that we are a long way from being ‘paperless’.
Personnel management – employee databases
Human Resources (or Personnel) Departments use employee databases to help with areas such as:
- Pensions and
- General administrative purposes
Evaluation – FLEXIBILITY
For businesses and for workers, ICT in the office undoubtedly offers scope for more flexibility in the location and time at which work is done. For many people, this makes the difference between working, and not working, and so it has a positive effect on the economy, allowing more people to contribute.
However ICT enables the easy transfer of work to other countries, and so it has been a cause of UK job losses too. Nevertheless, in the UK, there has been rising employment as workers have been concentrating on service and other jobs with greater added value.
Combined with mobile telephones, this technology means that many people, especially senior managers, are never really able to enjoy any holiday or leisure time. Many families lose out due to a poor ‘work-life balance’, and managers can suffer ill health through excessive stress.
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