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Criteria and Marking: Students will be assessed against the Management Concepts Assessment Report Rubric Requirement: Students are required to write a 1200-1500 word report on a management issue or potential management issue which they identify in the Case Study “Lancaster Advertising” available under Assessment This item of assessment is designed to enable students to develop their skills in the following: · Identifying, researching and understanding a chosen topic · Identifying and solving problems
Name: Lancaster Advertising
Owner: Ken Lancaster
Company Story:On Lancaster Advertising’s website, they say. “You might say we have the idea of delivering big ideas for small (or medium) budgets built into our DNA. Most of the hundreds of clients we have served since then have been entrepreneur-lead organisations with big ideas and usually less capital than their competition.”
Lancaster Advertising, of Lewisville, Texas, has no full time employees and no offices in which to operate. Sound strange? The company is actually part of a growing trend of staffing positions with “free agents” rather than with traditional full-time workers. The company used to have 15 full-time employees and two office buildings, but today, owner Ken Lancaster contracts with freelancers worldwide and works from his home, boat, or at a coffee shop. “You don’t have to worry about someone coming late to work, or if they can’t stand you, or about all the payroll taxes and insurance,” says Lancaster. Bryce Davis, one of Lancaster’s web designers, contracts with anywhere from 5 to 10 clients at a time and relishes his free agent status: “I enjoy the change of pace. It gives you an opportunity to be creative . . . without stagnating.”
More and more companies are moving toward flexible workforce arrangements based on engaging temporary workers, independent contractors, and freelancers in an effort to cut costs, respond more efficiently to fluctuating demands, or to engage workers with special skills for short-term projects. “The basic bargain at the centre of work used to be, employees gave loyalty and the organisation gave security – that bargain is kaput,” says Daniel Pink the author of Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself. Although the number of contingent workers has risen sharply in recent years as workers have sought increased flexibility and job security, traditional employees still comprise around 90 percent of the workforce.
Despite the freedom that supposedly comes from being a free agent, Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer points out that some freelancers may feel less freedom due to the opportunity cost associated with time not worked. As Pfeffer explains, people who decide to take contract work assignments to have more flexibility often become obsessed with the “time is money” concept and have trouble taking time away from their jobs because they think about the income opportunities that they are passing up in terms of “billable hours.” A possible solution?Pfeffer observes that many individual contractors are asking to be paid by the job rather than by the hour to avoid the situation.As technologies continue to evolve, organisations will likely find new and even more effective ways to reap the benefits of flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting and virtual teams.
Free agents are independent workers that supply organisations with talent for projects or time-bound objectives. Free agents and freelancers are not the only ways that companies are saving money while providing flexibility to their workers. Many companies are employing other types of flexible workforce arrangements, such as telecommuting and virtual teams. Telecommuting refers to a work arrangement in which an employee is given flexibility in terms of work location and often hours as well. Corporate leaders often identify telecommuting as a primary tool for attracting and retaining the best and the brightest employees; indeed, 82 of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” offer some form of telecommuting. For example, 20 percent of Delta Air Line’s reservation agents now work from home full-time. Delta spends approximately $2500.00 to purchase each agent a computer as well as software licenses, but the employees pay for their own phone line. At-home Delta agents are paid less than their call-centre counterparts, but they save time and gasoline by not commuting to work, and they enjoy the convenience of working from home.
As flexible work options involving free agents and telecommuting continue to grow, the need to coordinate the efforts of these physically dispersed workers has led to a new type of organisational structure, the virtual team. A virtual team refers to a group of employees who work across barriers consisting of time, distance, and organisational boundaries, while being linked together by information and communication technologies. Experts suggest that companies with virtual teams should provide space within the information technology systems for those teams to operate. This space can be used for sharing information about projects, but it should have a social network component that can allow team members to share information about their personal lives, such as family news.
As University of Central Florida professor Eduardo Salas notes, “Within an office setting, co-workers swap stories, talk about their families and share vacation photos. It’s being part of the organisation and feeling connect with the people you work with. With virtual teams, employees need to provide a way for team members to interact and encourage them to build that sense of community and friendship.” Whether employees work as free agents, in virtual teams, or in the office, managers need to ensure that they hire the right people for the right job.
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