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Describe how the three features of the labour process interact and give an example of how these have changed in one particular job (e.g. office work) over a period of time.

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Introduction

Describe how the three features of the labour process interact and give an example of how these have changed in one particular job (e.g. office work) over a period of time. You should pay particular attention to the benefits of change, showing who gains from advances in technology for instance. Primarily to understand the rational of the subject we must establish the three features of the labour process as originally defined by Karl Marx: * Material (the subject of the work). * Tools (instruments of work). * Labours (the personal activity of man). 2 Secondly, it is necessary to state that "The capitalist labour process is one in which the interests of the capital-owning class are represented by managements whose basic task is to design, control and monitor work tasks and activities so as to ensure the effective extraction of surplus value from the labour activity of employees. A" (Watson, 1995, p260) 1 The three features of the labour process interact in the modern day workplace in just about every single aspect of human working. As private companies strive to make profit (the fundamental reason for their existence), and as other non-profit-making entities seek maximum efficiency within their operations, thus optimum output levels from workers becomes an organizational objective. The activity of workers (Labours) is determined by numerous sociological and financial factors (Maslows Hierarchy of needs and Herzbergs Hygiene and Motivating factors), as well as by the type and/or quality of 'Tools' which they are provided with to complete their allotted tasks. ...read more.

Middle

the advent of the modern office, the personal computer and computer systems. First of all, calculators were invented (new Tools) which changed the nature of the work (Labours) of clerical workers as well as enhanced the output (Material) limits of these clerical workers. This actually meant that these workers could do more work and with better accuracy, assuming that sufficient training was given to use the new tools. Greater work output (Material) and increased accuracy meant that fewer workers were needed to complete the same amount of work as before, a direct benefit for the employing organization. The activity of work (Labours) became a great deal more interesting for the clerks, as new 'Tools' meant that they could perform their duties in a different way. The 'Tools' were 'Labour' saving devices, but also 'Labour' improving devices. The quality of work output (Material) could be greatly improved by the use of new 'Tools'. This advancement in technology continued with the introduction of computers (advanced Tools) into the workplace some thirty or so years ago. This was a real revolution in the workplace improving worker outputs (Labours and Material) hugely. In the modern office environment, especially in an accountants office, a required 'Material' of work is generally set by the employer or their representatives in the form of managers; whom may also set particular criteria or methodologies to be followed in the undertaking or the completion (Labours) ...read more.

Conclusion

more freedom. Also, it enables the clerk to become more flexible in how they perform their duties. Empowering a worker by providing them the best 'Tools' to complete their job is a proven method of optimising their output (Material). It can therefore be concluded (in this example) that investment in modern office equipment and computer technology (Tools) has benefited both the employer and the employee in a variety of ways. The extents to which the derived benefits from change can be quantified are different, and are not specifically financial. Financial benefits to employers might be reduced personnel requirements or reduced working hours from existing staff; both leading to reduced personnel costs. Also, increased quality of output meaning reduced costs of resources (stationary, office equipment, management time etc.). Non-financial (and non-quantifiable) benefits to employers might be, the improved quality of workers output leading to more satisfied and happier workers, in turn creating a more harmonious working environment. Effectiveness in the workplace and quality output brings real customer satisfaction, and the retention of customers is vital for any business. Happy customers promote a positive image of the business and result in good referrals from said customers, which generically attract additional customers. Also, a satisfied and thus flexible workforce is in a position to assist management with business development, whether that is in the form of increasing their output at any given time or changing their output altogether alongside newly emerging office technology. This organizational flexibility puts the business in a much better position to meet the ever changing requirements of the customer. ...read more.

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