Once upon a time a disconnected worker

Once upon a time a disconnected worker

Monday, 20 november 2017 | Brenda Rodríguez López

New jobs, reinvention of processes, disuse of paper, care of online reputation, data processing,... Professionals witness the beginning of the transition to the digitalized work. Keeping a stiff upper lip in the incipient digital era where changes are disruptive and exponential is not easy. Is it possible to work in a hyperconnected society and keep an "analog" profile? Are some workers condemned to be left behind? Can a professional who is not a digital native survive in this environment? Are we ready to take the leap?


This story, although it begins as a tale, it is not. What was fiction yesterday, is now routine. Searching for answers without resorting to manuals. Contacting your colleagues immediately without calling by phone. Studying without attending to classes. Getting an interview without sending a resume, nor showing up at any company. Meeting professionals of the sector without shaking their hands. Sending documents in a few seconds anywhere in the world and without leaving home. Delegating decisions based on algorithms. Working and not going to the office. The possibility of being interviewed by a robot. How has work changed since we are connected! Many digital natives would hyperventilate when imagining that they forget the cellphone at home and cannot come back in a few hours or that they have no access to the Internet along a complete working day. The new generations will be even more digitized. The disconnected worker is now a professional of the past.

At what pace do we move?

The Internet consumption is very high. People spend increasingly more hours connected to the network, also at work. Strategies and processes become digital by definition, it is not necessary to add the adjective. The new normality is digital. Companies try to adapt to new times and work on improving internal communication, the recruitment through social networks, the methods digitalization or the online reputation. A report carried out by Incipy and Inesdi asserts that 79% of Spanish companies claim to have started the digital transformation process in terms of Human Resources. Some of them even say that they are in an advanced stage of this transit.

The change is both unstoppable and inevitable. The Co-Director of the Master's Degree in Human Resources, Management of Talent and Leadership, Rafael Sancho Zamora, in an interview about the future of the HR sector, explains: <<The development of new technologies is transforming organizations and, by extension, the sphere of Human Resources management. The way in which employees work, interact and communicate is changing the work environments of organizations, forced to work in the transition to “the digital”>>.

Most of Spanish companies –90% according to the study The business of the future: giving free rein to talent of IDC– claim that digital transformation is a priority for their business. However, according to the analysis of 150 national and multinational companies with commercial presence in Spain carried out by the B-talent technology consultancy, only 2% of them successfully managed to start up and complete this process. This is a change that implies a continuous evolution. It is not a simple box than they can mark in the list of the company pending tasks, but a long distance race. Professionals cannot run at the same pace that changes occur. They need training, a period of adaptation.

Once upon a time a disconnected worker

What if I want to be "analog"?

The level of awareness regarding the need to assimilate the digital scenario is high. Some professionals may still question whether they need to change. This transformation penetrates all sectors and will end up, influencing all professionals sooner or later –from digital natives to more traditional profiles–. Like the professor Sancho Zamora says: <<We walk into increasingly changing environments where adaptive capacity is fundamental. And in order to develop this capacity, a multidisciplinary training is required. The hermetic and unequivocally specialized profiles have ended>>.

Not all employees of a company adapt to the same pace, nor they can acclimate to the environment in the same way. The digital transformation strategy of a business must consider the profile diversity of workers that it employs –the more different and varied they are, the more enriched the organization structure will be–. Focusing only on the digital talent hiring, without thinking of the rest of the professionals who work in the business, or in the development of technology, without providing solutions adapted to the digital environment, may be unproductive in a long run scenario. The HR company departments should think in long term, even if the changes occur in short intervals.

Among the trends that now companies have to face stand out: the increase of automation processes, the integration of software, the design of solid and effective content strategies and the decision making in relation to Big Data. Professionals have to accept that the environment will change, with or without them. Accepting it implies being willing to make an effort and be more versatile to fit into the new labor scenario. The work will be increasingly flexible, specialized, automated, demanding and immediate. Keeping an "analog" profile or cling to the past in the current labor market, can be a real alternative in the short term, but can also close doors in a long term. It is not necessary to be a digital native to survive in this territory, but, to be willing to adapt to the new way of working, to be permeable to changes and to train to get it, is definitely necessary.

Following the argument expounded on the posthumous Retrotopia essay of the Polish philosopher and the Prize Prince of Asturias of Communication and Humanities in 2010, Zygmunt Bauman,  people seek in an idealized past an utopia to prevent a future where we project our apprehensions, the key is to find the balance. Looking back is alright, but as you go forward. Digital transformation involves changes in the organizational culture of companies, new ways of performing tasks, new workers typologies, new labor relations and new problems and solutions. Once upon a time there was a disconnected worker who ended up embracing the digital age. He had no other choice.