THE EFFECTS OF MODERN OFFICE AUTOMATION ON THE PRODUCTIVITY OF SECRETARIES

ABSTRACT

This study was carried out to investigate the effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries. In order to obtain the required information, questionnaire were administered to secretaries. Data collected are presented under discussions and findings in chapter four. From the data collected, the researcher was able to identify the effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries. It was revealed that technology (office automation) aids the secretaries to a large extent in discharging of their duties. However, for these newly introduced equipment to function, and to bring the designed goals, someone is always needed in the office. In the same vein, majority of the respondents were of the view that introduction of modern office automation lead to training and retaining of secretaries. In summation, the finding of this research work was that technology has had a tremendous effect on the jobs of today’s secretary. It was also deduced that technology cannot endanger raised the productivity of secretaries in the recent years based on the findings, the researcher concluded that technology cannot endanger the further prospect of flexible secretary. Finally, organizations have the duty to send secretaries on new courses on refresher course from time to time. And they should acquire modern office automation to improve the productivity of their secretaries.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Work was the major activities of man before the industrial revolution that was the period marked with mechanization of work, presently computer is representing mechanization thereby turning the work into automation.

The 21st century has witnessed a lot of advancement both in science and technology. This advancement has been growing rapidly since the end Second World War both in manufacturing, aviation, medicine, engineering, finance and administration, such advances has affected adversely in all aspects of life. These technological advancement includes the modern office automation which we use in our day to day activities in he business organizations.

However modern automation in all works of life does not exempt secretarial productivity. The required unchanged while the procedure continues to change as more and more sophisticated machines are introduced in the office.

The impact brought about by the invention of new office machines are immeasurable many of those office automation out-ways the secretaries performance due to their effectiveness, speed and time saving. The introduction of most office automation might go as far as costing secretaries their job as a result of limited numbers being employed.

The fear of cost of craftsmanship as new product (automation) replaces the old ones becomes the issue of stake. Consequently, the issue of bearing extra cost in training and retraining secretaries becomes a problem.

These and many other reasons motivated the researchers into investigating and ascertaining how true these statement are with regards to the effects of modern office automation to the productivity of secretaries.

Statement of the Problem

The world is undergoing a raid change due to the innovation of modern automation as we are the new millennium and the evolution continues in order to cope with the modern age needs to know the effects of all these automated machines.

What are the effects of these changes on the productivity of secretaries in the offices, her ability to cope her job security, her relevance to the office work for which she is employed and moreover, the training which is o prepare her to meet the challenges of her over-changing work environment.

For government to equip their offices with modern automation they need enough capital to import these machines since they are not produced in Nigeria.

Modern office automation we all know needs expertise as regards to repair and procurement of spare marts.

Some of these automated machines need suitable environment like air-conditioned room, isolated pace and wide space. For Oru West L.G.A to acquire these equipment, they will have to re-adjust their environment to suit the new machines that is to be acquired.

Purpose of the study

  1. To identify the effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries.
  2. To identify the use of office automation.
  3. To examine the importance of automation.
  4. To identify the problems secretaries encounter in using those automation.

Significance of the Study

The research is carried out in the sense that its findings will reassure the secretaries who thinks their skills is no longer useful in the offices as a result of the introduction of new modern automation. This ought to be done in order to boost their morale and increase their productivity as well. It will also be useful to both practicing secretaries and secretaries to be, not to fear about the future prospect of their profession, the study will also be very handy to various institutions where secretaries are trained to design healthy training programmes for secretaries in schools so that experience gained will be useful in the world of work if all the study will be immensely important to the general public especially the government to appreciate the best way to make use of automation available to them.

The Scope of the study

The scope of this research work is delimited to the effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries in Oru West Local Government secretarial complex, Imo State.

Research Questions

  1. What are the effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries.
  2. What are the uses of office automation
  3. What are the importance of automation
  4. What are the problems secretaries encounters in using those automation.

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

Literature review according to Azuka (2011) is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research.

The aim of his chapter is to extract relevant views of various authors which gives credence to this research topic and to draw inferences from their various ideas.

For an effective review, the study is grouped under the following headings.

  1. The effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries.
  2. The uses of office automation.
  3. The importance of office automation.
  4. Problems secretaries encounter in using those automation.

The effects of modern office automation on the productivity of secretaries.

Technology has greatly affected secretarial profession not only in Nigeria but world-over. Looking at the contribution of technology to the profession in the present time, one begins to imagine what would have become of the profession if technology had not come to its rescue. Technology has completely enveloped secretarial profession such that it is now safe for one to say that without technology there is no secretary profession. Some of the ways technology has affected secretarial profession include:

  1. The use of modern word processing machines starting from electronic typewriter through memory writer to computer, have brought great relief to the secretary. Enhance secretarial functions pleasurable and attractive.
  2. The speed and accuracy with which document are produced are unraveled in the history of human skills.
  3. Technology has eliminated wastage of secretary’s time by saving hi of the time he spends on routine job such as creation of files, storage and retrieval of such files, which are now done by the computer.
  4. Technology has enriched secretarial job and this enrichment has resulted in job satisfaction for secretaries. A secretary now feels happy and satisfied when he poses behind a computer, which is also found on the tables on top executives and important officials in important offices. In fact, the computer has become a status symbol and has turned everybody in the world into secretarial profession.
  5. Technology has brought secretaries to focus and make them important members of the organizations as they are now sent on training and retraining on the use of new office equipment.
  6. Technology has broadened the scope of secretarial profession. It has severed the secretary from the derogatory appendage status to and independence members of the organization, information management and a custodian of organizational information reservoir.
  7. Technology has brought the whole world to the secretaries table; he takes the organization to the world and brings the world to the organization. For this reason every member of the organization including his boss respects him.
  8. Technology is gradually revising the general misconception and poor perception of secretaries in Nigeria society instead of their downgrading, they are now being respected, instead of them being looked down on as in the previous cases they are now being looked up to.
  9. Technology has increase the secretary’s productivity. A secretary while attending to a visitor may as well set a computer on motion to be printing out copies of needed documents while at the same time answering a telephone call.
  10. Technology has increased the secretary’s job opportunities and expand his areas of specialization. In addition to the conventional duties of a secretary, a secretary can now be engaged as an information manager, computer operators or chief executives.

Consequently, this same technology has led to secretaries laying off most of their practical skills like, writing shorthand as some machine has come to take dictations, transcribed them, and do a lot of processing that one begin to question the importance of including shorthand in the programme and its extent of usage in this age of technical dynamism.

In conclusion, as a result of this dynamism in technology, it has become the headache of secretaries to being to fear the future prospect of their profession, if a time will not come when machine will be doing everything and their services pushed aside. This is a day dreaming, anyway, as there is every belief that machines cannot operate themselves except there is a human being to do the operator, therefore, those who believe innovations in office equipment can make magnificence of the human kind and brain.

The Effects of Office Automation

Automation is suited to the developed countries of the world which have attained a state of full employment phenomenon. In those countries, automation becomes necessary because of scarcity of manpower. Automation is not suggested for developing countries like India because here the state of employment is visualized and automation will increase this state of unemployment. But automation should be introduced in post offices, railways, and banks, where the increased workload necessitates quick and accurate services to the public. Automation leads the following effects;

  1. Automation results in the state of employment because human labour is replaced by mechanical work.
  2. It requires huge investment and as such it goes beyond the capacity of small scale firms to afford for automation.
  3. It brings about a complete change in the organizational structure and involves a great deal of additional cost.

The Uses of office Automation

Generally, there are three basic activities of an office automation system:

  1. Storage of raw data
  2. Data exchange
  3. Data management. Within each broad application area, hardware and software combines to fulfill basic function.

Data Storage and Manipulation

Data storage usually include office records and other primary office forms and documents. Data applications involves the capture and editing of a file, image, or spreadsheet. World processing and desktop presentation packages accommodates raw textual and graphical data, while spreadsheet applications enables the easy manipulation and output of numbers. Image applications allow the capture and editing of images. Text-handling software and systems cover the whole field of word processing and desktop publishing. Word processing is the inputting (usually via keyboard) and manipulation of text on a computer. Word processing is frequently the most basic and common office automation activity. Popular commercial word perfect (Corel) and word (Microsoft). Each provides the office user with a sophisticated set of commands to format, edit, and print text documents. Most popular features of word processing packages are their preformatted document templates. Templates automatically set up such things as font size, paragraph styles, headers and footers, and page numbers so that the user does not have to reset document characteristics every time they create a new record.

Desktop publishing adds another dimension to test manipulation, by packaging the textures of a word processor with advanced page design and layout features, desktop publishing packages easily creates documents with text and images, such as newsletters or brochures. Images-handling software and systems are another facet of office automation. Images or digital pictures are representation of visual information. Usual information is an important complement to textual information.

Data Exchange:

The exchange of stored and manipulated information is an equally important component of an office automation system. Electronic transfer is a general application area, it highlights the exchange of information between more than one user or participant. Electronic mail, voice mail, and facsimile are examples of electronic transfer applications. Systems that allow instantaneous or “real time” transfer of information (i.e online conversations via computer or audio exchange with video capture) are considered electronic sharing system.

Electronic sharing software illustrates the collaborative nature of many office automation system. The distinction between electronic transfer and electronic sharing is subtle but recognizable.

Data Management:

The last major component of an office automation system offers planning and strategic advantages by simplifying the management of stored information. Task management, tickler systems or reminder systems, and scheduling programmes monitors and control various projects and activities and tasks through timeliness, resource equations, and electronic scheduling. As in data exchange, groupware is gaining in popularity for data management. Each member of the work group or larger group may share access to necessary information via the automated office system and groupware.

The Importance of Office Automation

The need for automation is felt because of the following reasons. These reasons emphasize on importance of automation.

The reasons are:

  1. Automation facilitate efficient and detailed information through the use of mechanical aids like computers.
  2. It ensures speedy recording processing and presenting of information.
  3. Increased volume of work, scarcity of time and the slow manual processes necessitates the introduction of automation.
  4. It facilitates better quality work by reducing errors which are created on manual work.
  5. Revolution in office has been brought by automation because increased volume of work is handled in a better manner with greater accuracy and speedy because of automation. This process results in increased output.
  6. Automation increases the goodwill and reputation of the firm because it adds to the prestige and status symbol of the enterprise.

The numerous advantages of modern automation to the secretaries are over emphasized. Elendu (1993) in his book @office machines says economy is the watchword for any organization using these modern office automation hence the secretary can be doing other things while the boss is dictating his speech or report to the recorder, only the time of the dictator is being utilized. He also says it is convenient since the dictator can dictate at any time and place. He goes further to state that dictated materials can be mailed out especially where the addresses has the same type of automation or where the executive is on tour he can make use of the dictator instead of travelling with the female secretary thereby entailing debauchment. He also says that any typist can make be given a recorded dictation to be transcribed in case of the secretary’s absence or illness. These automation eliminates the face contact of the boss and the secretary which has been an avenue for temptation or seduction form either the boss or the secretary.

Geoffrey (1993) agreed that office automation as an aid to the secretary who makes constant use of the machines, hence the machines can carry out routine work or clerical jobs quickly accurately and automatically more than the ordinary human being do, thereby freeing the staff in working out payroll, and other numerous letters and calculations which needs an expert and excellent touch to be done correctly. Some of them has large storage facilities and can store information in its memory unit. Geoffrey confirmed that the presence of computer as office automation has created new job opportunities especially for the secretarial assistance. The secretary can easily tell the boss the performance of seconds without consulting the external auditors the whole sales book to achieve the answer. Some these machines can store all the information or data concerning the whole organization in a small plastic design object called diskette instead of occupying the whole room with file. Some of them can go as far as controlling the movement of the boss with the use of computer hence the movement of the boss will be computerized both in and out of the organizational environment.

Magret (1999) goes on to say that some of these modern office automation provides the opportunity of sending a message straight to a distant office through the use of fax which saves the time of typing, editing, stamping and posting. Also registration process if it involves a valuable document. Its operation is simple and does not need extra training by the secretary.

Asonye (1992) in his write up computer awareness for secretaries says that most of these automation makes it quick and easy for editing of text right there as the secretary is keying in the text and omissions are immediately added, these can e achieved by using the word processing machine. He goes on to say that word processor helps to reduce labour to the secretary, with the use of mail merge jobs that will take about 20 staff one month to complete can take 2 staff an hour to complete. In 1880 census in United state of America took 7 years to complete, but with the introduction of an automation and with the use of mouse tape the 1890 census result was announced 6 weeks after the census.

A secretary according to Okafor (1997) is one involved in keeping secretes that is only the secretary is often regarded as a secret keeper. To aid the secretary to achieve a high level of confidentiality the office automation are the answer to this, hence it allows for store in a diskette with a password or keyword or saves in a computer system with a name which is known by only her, and to be retrieved when the boss needs the file again. He went further to say that word processing machine as modern office automation enables information to be transferred from one station to another.

Information can move from one branch to another without physical movement of the document, rather it is done through the cable system thereby maintaining a high level of confidentiality and safety of important document.

Office automation can get many tasks accomplished faster. It eliminates the need for a large staff. Less storage is required to store data. Multiple people can update data simultaneously in the event of changes in schedule.

Considering that company organizations requires increased communication, today, office automation is no longer limited to simply capturing handwritten notes. In particular, it also includes the following activities: Exchange of information, management of administrative documents, meeting, planning and management of work schedules.

The Problems Secretaries Encounter in using those Modern Office Automation

Most of these modern office automation despite their contribution to the secretarial staff, still have some loop holes which does not favour the secretarial assistant, her boss and the organization. Elendu (1993) in his book office practical says that most of these modern office automation are there to be compared with manual machines. The cost of purchasing these office automation are much, such that most organization may not be in a position to acquire them. Since these machines are electronic, power failure may hamper the progress of work. He went further to state that some of these automation like the dictating machines which the boss use in dictating his message in the absence of the secretarial assistant will have to wait for the secretary to come and operate it so as to give the message in paper form, ready for dispatch. Also the secretary using such automation need to have a good knowledge of English language and the ability to spell, punctuate and correct grammatical errors all these needs extra cost hence these skilled staff have to be motivated.

Egbue (1998) in his own contribution says that most of these office automation though they are automation cannot think or operate itself. Computer is seen as an idiot machine which only gives you what you gave it. Garbage in garbage out (GIGO). They cannot act without taking instructions from somebody; it can be manipulated to give the wrong answer by the operator. He went further to say that computer which is regarded as an alternative to human brain cannot help where human consideration is needed like determination of price, cost and sales volume, he continued to say that the introduction of automation has worsened the unemployment problem as most routine and repetitive jobs are now computerized (e.g pay rolling) thereby taking the assignment from the many people that are initially assigned. Egbue further stated that over reliance on modern automation may reach to an extent when human thinking faculty may be surrendered in part or wholly to computer memory. Also to acquire most of these automation extra cost is needed for maintenance and retraining of staff for operation.

Secretaries have a lot of problems facing them, thus, ranges from lack of adequate training programme, lack of modern working equipment, poor reward, poor working condition etc.

a Lack of Equipment: In a recent research by Abanibe et al (1996) it was found out that the inability of some secretaries in some organizations to perform up to the marginal level was due to lack of equipment for their training and development. In the organization where the research was conducted, 80% of the departments were of the opinion that secretaries would perform efficiently if provided with adequate equipment during their training. It was also discovered that secretary desire practical training with the new equipment than basin on theoretically oriented training. It was agreed that inadequate provision of equipment were responsible for the low-level performance of secretaries in the organizations.

  1. Lack of funds: The organizations cannot survive or carryout their functions without the provision of adequate financial resources. Funds is needed to pay secretaries, maintain the organizational facilities, and infrastructures and keep the training programmes going. Nukpa (2008) suggested that beings which yields economic and social benefits or to the society as a whole. It contributes to a nation’s future wealth and development by increasing the productive and consumptive capacity of the citizens; Inadequate funding of the secretaries trainee has become very enormous and endemic that recent literature on organizational finance, emphasis is placed on the distribution organizational resources in such a way as to maximize the objectives set aside for the organization.
  2. Inadequate reward: Inadequate rewards to trained secretaries is an economic problem which secretaries have been battling with over the years Okeke (1999). This goes to stress the view that the salary paid to trained secretaries is reasonably low and have resulted to poor standard of living which the secretaries are facing.

In conclusion, many authors have elaborated more on these problems of secretaries in some organizations especially the Oru West Local Government secretarial complex Imo State. These problems will be higher reduced, if the problems are looked into and given a favourable treatment by the government.

Onuoha (1999) sees computer illiteracy as inability to understand the working of computer machine. It involves its manipulation by the novice secretaries coming across the computer for the first time. Onuoha (2002), agreed that computer illiteracy has to do with the inability of the modern secretary to make use of a computer machine as an innovation is secretarial administration. From the forgoing, it does not include computer education. Alifo (1995) opined that the absence of computer education on the part of a modern secretary constitutes illiteracy and a handicap to his / her secretarial duties in modern time. For a modern secretary to function effectively in secretarial administration there must be computer literacy.

Chippinger (1997) said that without question computer has changed our lives, especially the way we do office work. The arrival of the electronic age is permanently changing many office jobs. The implications of Chippinger’s statement are that office work in modern times requires the absence of computer illiteracy on the modern secretaries. The implication is that any secretary, who is computer illiterate, may have difficult in copying with his office work and as such a liability to the office.

Summary of Literature Review

The secretary is the image of every organization because of her excellent role she plays. Therefore, the reputation of an organization to the public and clients will depend on the efficiency of the secretary in the performance of her duties. However, secretarial work will allow you to use many different talents and work with many different people. As an office professional, you will have the responsibility to organize the work flow so that your employer will feel that everything is under control, with all projects completed when needed. You may have the opportunity to compose letters and write speeches and to type press releases or minutes of meetings. You may communicate with office equipment, sales persons and be asked to help interview candidates for job.

The time to be a secretary is now. The profession of secretary offers excellent career potential in today’s modern office. Automated equipment, computerized information systems, challenging job responsibilities, and good salary potential are some of the elements of the present day position.