Elio is a wiener-like car that comfortably seats the driver and uncomfortably seats anyone who is tall in the backseat. It is a commuter car for the solo driver. I sat in the fifth-generation prototype of this vehicle and felt I could immediately drive it with its standard car-like features.
It is expected to retail new for about $6,800 and run 80 miles per gallon. It’s that cheap because it has three wheels and officially is considered a motorcycle, even though the driver uses a steering wheel, the vehicle looks like a car and there are no handlebars in sight. Motorcycles have fewer regulations than four-wheeled cars to keep prices low. Engineers have tried to make the vehicles crash-safe with NASCAR-like technology. There are no sales yet, but plenty of potential buyers are lining up reservations. Details about the car are a Google away.
Human-resource issues with the new technology abound. If a company has a parking lot with a motorcycle section, should the driver park there or use regular parking stalls? (The car marginally can fit in a motorcycle space.) An employee handbook can clarify the problem, but considerable discussion may be needed to satisfy those new types of concerns. If it is officially a motorcycle but looks like a car, should a company charge motorcycle rates to park in its motorcycle stall? An Elio driver might be tempted to park in the motorcycle section to save money even though this may create space inconvenience and animosity among other motorcyclists.
Human-resource professionals are trying to keep up with many issues involved with new technologies, such as Elio. For example, should vaping be considered identical to smoking in a policy manual? Should a manager be allowed to monitor how long an employee sits on a chair to make sure he or she gets off of it every hour? May that manager mandate the policy with the employee’s consent? May employees on call be required to have their location monitored through cell phones at all times? If the employee is “caught” in a competitor’s manufacturing building, would there be any consequences if that goes against policy? What if that employee temporarily lent the cell phone to a friend for a few minutes?
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Another issue concerns the engineers at Elio. New technologies can create problems that require 12 or more hours per day. Those hours behind a computer or some other techno-contraption can make the day go fast, especially for engineers who are ultra-excited about the project. Who cares about family or friends? Should a company mandate that all engineers take time off or shorten their days to keep them healthy or sane?
A way to reduce human resource-related problems with new technology is to keep up-to-date with current literature on human resources. The Society for Human Resource Management, WorldAtWork, Association for Training Professionals, and a desperate Google search are among the resources that can provide such support.