When I was growing up, calling a person on the phone after 10:00 pm was just something you didn’t do. Nor did you butt ahead of people in line or call an elder by their first name without being explicitly invited to do so. There has always been some form of social contract governing individual behavior in society and people who flouted that social contract were to others, outcasts.
There has always been a social contract at work.
Just as there has always been a social contract between individuals and their government and in society, so too has there been one in work. Before the ICT Revolution, there were things that you just did not do in a working environment. There was a way that the corporation as represented by one’s manager behaved in relation to each and every employee. There were acceptable modes of behavior and unacceptable ones.
But for some reason, the social contract has been broken.
The net result of all of the change at work due to computerization is that the social contract that existed between workers and their employers has been broken. We need to either return to the old social contract and change our behavior or we need to develop a new social contract to recognize the impact that technological change is having on our lives. While firms have done an excellent job developing mission and value statements, they need to work to develop social contracts with employees and state these directly so that everyone can understand what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable.