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Nine to five
THE paperless office, as computers render paper redundant? The peopleless office, as entrepreneurial clerks elect to tap-tap-tap on their keyboards at home? To day's bluff predictions about the future of work are no more solid than these famously mistaken acts of crystal-gazing from the recent past. More and more people spend more and more of their time in offices, if not behind their own desk, then behind the desk they have found for them-selves that day. The shared desk, the wired desk, the 24-hour office. Everybody knows that office life is changing. But how fast, how importantly and for whom, is not so obvious. If you are keen to know more, four useful recent books shed light on what has happened in the white-collar world rather than on what might happen there.
|THE CHANGING NATURE OF WORK. Edited by Frank Ackerman, Neva Goodwin, Laurie Dougherty and Kevin Gallagher. Island Press; 432 pages; $60. Paperback distributed in the UK by Littlehampton Book Services; £22.95.|
THE VINTAGE BOOK OF OFFICE LIFE. Edited by Jeremy Lewis. Vintage; 400 pages; £7.99.
WOMEN OF THE PITS: SHATTERING THE GLASS CEILING IN FINANCIAL MARKETS. By Mara Koppel. Dearborn Financial Publishing; 188 pages; $29.95. Distributed in the UK by BRAD.; £24; available end March.
HAVING NONE OF IT: WOMEN, MEN AND THE FUTURE OF WORK. By Suzanne Franks. Granta Books; 300 pages;
Unskilled men are also among the losers. The invention of the forklift truck alone, she notes, has displaced countless numbers ofthem by eliminating such basic tasks as the moving and shifting of heavy loads. They alone face the challenge of excess leisure that the futurologists not long ago were promising for everyone. Only the odd redundant labourer responds by becoming "a new man". Many more sink into "laddism". Ms Franks may not have all the answers, but then who does? At least she raises, and addresses, the right questions.