Most people aren't very good at typing. So why is it that when the PC appeared the majority of us were issued with one and told: "you are now more productive"?
Brian Stokes wondered this. Stokes, who is a supply-chain manager at Fletcher Challenge, also wondered why people who were paid a lot of money to be good at one thing were expected to do their own typing, something many were notoriously bad at.
"Take sales reps, they only make money when they're selling. Trying to get them to type up reports is an ongoing hassle for their managers," says Stokes, who has come up with a novel solution which he calls Freedom On Call.
Basically, the user would phone into the system, answer a series of pre-determined questions based on their needs and then hang up. The system would then pass on the answers to a typist, either someone at the user's office or, interestingly, a pool of typists that Freedom On Call would maintain.
"Instead of issuing them with notebooks, they can call up on their cellphones, answer a few questions and that's it," says Stokes.
Users can then concentrate on doing their jobs while the typing is taken care of.
"I noticed that a lot of people are working from home. Housewives especially may have access to PCs in the home." Stokes decided that harnessing this untapped resource would be the answer to his need for a typing pool.
Typists would log on as available and the system would assign work as it came available.
Typists with specialist areas of knowledge, medical or legal, for example, would be chosen for documents that required those levels of understanding.
Stokes hopes this system will solve two problems with one solution.
"People who should be doing their job and not typing will have someone to do the work for them, and people stuck at home or available at odd hours will have work."
Freedom On Call is looking for beta testers to use the system free of charge.
"We'll set up the templates and look after the typing end of things — we just need someone to use it in real life to see how it goes," says Stokes, who hopes to eventually take the system to the US.
Interested participants should contact Stokes at 0-9-626 3443 or email stokes@ xtra.co.nz.