Hyperspecialize!


Word on the street (or on our readings at least) that there is a new, revolutionary way of doing work. It’s called hyperspecialization—and while the term might sound a wee bit fancy, the idea is actually very simple. Nowadays, companies, groups, or even individuals can post job requests on third party sites, such as TopCoder and InnoCentive, and any individual may register on these sites and compete for the project. This allows the work to be completed in cost-effiecient way, and with the help of individuals who are specialists on the task. The pros and cons of hyperspecialization have been discussed in the article. Below is a summary.

The Pros

Hyperspecialization benefits employers:

  • They are able to find the cheapest, and probably the best way of getting specific tasks or jobs accomplished. The quality of work rises because of the element of competition.
  • This is the perfect solution to job mismatch. With hyperspecialization, you get the specialists every time.

Workers get benefits too:

  • They have the freedom to choose their work hours and their tasks. Most people who feel stuck in regular office jobs would love to have this.
  • With hyperspecialization, you are judged based on skill. This gives an equal opportunity for fresh graduates (like us next year, hopefully) and workers from developing countries like ours. The playing field is level—you just have to be good.

The Cons

  • Ethical issues arise because the workers cannot see the big picture. They may be hired to do tasks that are against their principles or beliefs.
  • Work may become dull and meaningless because it may be overspecialized.
  • Work may be done without payment, because of its competitive nature.
  • “Digital sweatshops” may be the trend, where workers may be paid substantially less than their work’s worth.

A suggestion for addressing these issues has also been provided. Global standards can be set up regarding informing the workers about the nature of their task and to manage salary. Not getting paid fully is also common in careers in graphic design and writing. and work need not be meaningless, because persons can choose to work on challenging or trivial tasks at will.

From the Jaywalker’s OrCom Perspective

There is a mention of the rise of guild-like organizations to fill workers’ need to connect to their peers. These types of organizations are emerging. Right now there is a research trend that deals with the question “what counts as organizations?” The workplace is not as simple  as a bunch of people shuffling around an office and trying to get along so they can work together on tasks anymore. The future of work is here.

Personally, I don’t think I’m fit for a work-at-home career. I like the feel of a traditional work environment with bustling people. At home, alone in front of my laptop, I feel sluggish and just plain too lazy to get anything done. And as much as I gripe about the daily commute in Metro Manila, I will sure miss having to battle my way to work (I have quite a few stories from my internship) through the traffic everyday. I’ll probably end up like this:

Happens all the time.

Working from home might not be for me. Click on the picture to see The Oatmeal's full comic on the pros and cons.

But as an OrCom major, if this becomes the trend, then I’ll catch up. I’ve seen the idea of virtual communities work on social networking sites, specifically on Tumblr. Even across the distance, and despite the fact that they start out as total strangers, their similar interests really make these people feel part of their group. It may not be a traditional organization, but their commitment is just the same. This type of dynamic can probably develop between hyperspecialists in “guilds” too.

This may be unchartered territory, but it’s exciting to me. Despite the suggestions from the article, I still feel like there is a danger of going back to the notion of organizations as machines, where people are faceless and nothing but the work matters. Hyperspecialization is promising, but here in our country, where workers’ rights are good in writing but implemented so well, and where social media-related legislation is still new stuff, someone needs to advocate the welfare of people who wish to work online, and manage the change. We might just be the ones up for the job.

About rz fortajada
20, Student | Frustrated Rockstar | Part-time Ninja Turtle | Blogger

One Response to Hyperspecialize!

  1. Brian says:

    I like the idea that hyperspecialization provides equal opportunities for all, as long as they have the necessary skills to do the job. It’s also good that it allows flexibilty of work hours. However, I have some issue regarding doing only one particular kind of job regularly. Based on my experience working in a call center (not a hyperspecialized job, though), it’s really quite dehumanizing to do the same thing over and over again. It made me feel like a machine. I hope that hyperspecialization in the Philippines won’t have negative effects to workers.

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