Saturday, April 9, 2016

Time Versus Skills Arbitrage: Some Comparisons

Personal time options and skills capacity are equally important, as sources of arbitrage value. However, personal time options may be sidelined or even disregarded, in today's demanding work environments. Fortunately, knowledge use systems can give time arbitrage priority over skills arbitrage, since symmetric group coordination makes it possible to consider time value based on its own merits. This choice is important, since many have forgotten what it feels like to manage time effectively.

When our skills capacity is asymmetrically compensated, we become part of a process which is externalized in organizational patterns beyond our own. This removes elements of choice from our time use decisions - especially for job positions requiring minimal skill. On the other hand, when individuals are considered the "best" for certain skills capacity, one's time value is in high demand, and it may be possible to gain more negotiation power for personal time considerations.

What about the "best" skills on offer, in knowledge use systems? Skills capacity would remain an important element (alongside time preferences) for many group interactions. However, in these close working environments, high demand skills capacity would elicit more direct responses and adaptations, than what are possible in general equilibrium conditions. In particular, others would become more inclined, to commit to local educational skill options that are shown to be in high demand.

Skills arbitrage gradually took precedence over time arbitrage in the 20th century workplace, as time use was shaped by the organizational patterns of existing institutions. Even though many forms of work benefit when sorted for skill, the misrepresentation of time management can distort work patterns for both individuals and groups, over time. This has particularly occurred for time based service product: a fact which knowledge use systems would seek to address.

Time arbitrage is also important for personal autonomy, and the degree of autonomy in one's work impacts how skills value is perceived by others. Consider what happens for instance, when task repetition is required that extends beyond an optimal threshold - a problem no matter one's skill level. It is always easier to do a better job, when we are responsible for making the choices how to go about doing so. An apt example in this regard is how we apportion non economic time, in response to the wants and needs of family and friends.

An important consideration for time arbitrage, is the fact it contributes to a form of product many individuals have all but given up on: the focused attention of others. In a time when repetition and standardization are sought, personal attention from someone appears as though a luxury which is increasingly out of reach. Even though this is relatively true in terms of asymmetric compensation, it need not be true, for the symmetric compensation which is possible at the level of individual economic activity.

The time based product that we can create in relation to one another, is not an abstraction in the sense of work that contributes to product other than ourselves. What has been missed thus far in today's economy, is that virtually everyone has time value which can contribute to the well being of others. And many preferences in this regard, can be recreated on economic terms.

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