Colonization during the 16th to 18th centuries brought further changes to the nature of work. Opportunities for trade expanded with continued growth in the size of markets, helping increase the scale of manufacturing industries across Europe. The emergence of a middle class, and the growing wealth of those within it, further increased the demand for goods and thus brought the need for mass production. The smaller guild-like trade systems also shifted to larger political systems, like the Royal kingdom, which granted greater economic influence over a larger jurisdiction. This shift tended to eliminate previous trade restrictions enforced by the merchant guilds and provided foundations that resemble modern-day trade.
The industrial revolution at the end of the 18th century again saw significant changes to the way we work with the first introductions into the division of labour. Employees no longer built whole products, rather they began focusing on individual components and processes within the production process. During this time, working and living conditions also deteriorated significantly which caused a number of social and political movements, to which the effects can still be seen today.
Global population levels and urbanization increased during this period, fueling the need for mass production to meet growing demand levels. These increases highlighted the need for the expansion of the current organisational hierarchies to include new roles and increased employee supervision. Roles in areas such as accounting, marketing, sales and engineering were created in addition to new supervisors and managerial roles which became important as the domestic markets became highly saturated. Thus, it required businesses to reach new customer markets elsewhere. The need to import raw materials to cut costs also became apparent, and businesses started outsourcing processes to further reduce costs.
Speed also became an important element in the production process during this period which saw developments made to increase output levels from workers. Frederick Taylor was the first to introduce industrial engineering techniques into the workplace, making workers more machine-like and more productive. Traits consistent in the modern workplace.
Scientific research by Elton Mayo was also conducted during this period to identify the causes of fatigue amongst workers that began to appear. The study found that the fatigue was a psychological issue rather than a physiological issue and that employees responded best when employees felt like they were important. This research provided the early foundations towards ergonomic design and human engineering, the importance of which is still evident today.