Currently there are many studies which deal with the impact of the Internet and Internet technology-based tools on organizations. Most of them are focused on such issues as the opportunities which have emerged with the development of the digital economy, possible new business models, establishing new kind of relations with customers, and security aspects. The impact of Internet technology-based tools on the internal work environment of organizations is an issue which is relatively rarely analyzed. Although more and more publications concerning this field are being released, they are only focused to a small degree on the challenges connected with the utilization, and, particularly, the misuse, of Internet technology-based tools in the workplace. Thus, this article is an attempt to deal with this issue in a more holistic way.
The problem of the impact of Internet technologies on the workplace of organizations has been discussed in various reports and publications since the second half of the 1990s. The resulting reports can be divided into two groups. The first involves general reports focused on the development of the digital economy, including parts devoted to the impact of the Internet and Internet technology-based tools on employees and the workplace. An example of one of the early studies is the report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce in April 1998, containing the short and fairly general chapter “Workers in the Digital Age.” It mainly addressed such aspects as the changes in skills required by workers in the new situation and the necessity for greater flexibility and adaptability (Margherio et al., 1998). The same approach is presented in the OECD report, published in 1999. Again, very few new elements were discussed with the ensuing reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce. A similar approach was presented in a United Nations report. This publication also featured aspects focusing on the possibilities emerging with the development of the Internet and Internet technology-based tools, relating mainly to teleworking, outsourcing, or offshoring (United Nations, 2002). A more detailed knowledge of the implications connected with the impact of Internet technology-based tools on the workplace of contemporary organizations, in the context of challenges, was presented in a series of reports “Surveying the Digital Future,” which have been issued annually since 2000. These reports are an attempt to show, holistically, the extent of both the impact of the Internet on various aspects of human life and in the context of the workplace. Each issue contains a chapter entitled “The Internet At Work,” where the results of annual surveys relating to elements such as the utilization of the Internet at work, its impact on employee productivity, the scope of private utilization of the Internet in the workplace, and employer perceptions of the ways Internet utilization in the workplace is presented. This is not, of course, a very deep analysis of the challenges connected with the utilization of Internet technology-based tools at work, but in some aspects the reports deliver important and up-to-date information (USC, 2004; USC, 2005).
The second group of reports addresses specific aspects related to the impact of Internet technologies on the workplace and the challenges connected with them. Examples of reports from this group are publications from the American Management Association (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006). Organizations such as Meta Group, AssetMetrix Research Labs, Dynamic Markets, eMarketer, the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and Blue Coat have also released reports devoted to various issues connected with the challenges emerging in the workplace along with the dissemination of Internet technology-based tools. They focus either on the negatives related to a specific tool utilization (AssetMetrix, 2003; Blue Coat, 2004; Dynamic Markets, 2003; Fallows, 2002) or on more general aspects (Blue Coat, 2003; Meta Group, 2004).