The effects of digitalization on the world of work are mainly referred to in German-language literature under the term Work 4.0. Furthermore, the term was also coined by the Federal Government. In contrast to Industry 4.0, the focus is on working models and forms of work with a focus on knowledge work. I would like to present in the following two studies, which represent the current state of work 4.0.

Study 1: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

The first study was carried out in 2016 on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS 2016). As based on more than 12,000 qualitative interviews with various employees from Germany across all sectors and hierarchy levels. Thematic The focus was on the design of working models in companies with the Focus on place of work/time, use of technology, education, social security and co-determination.

The active design of the place of work and the According to the experts interviewed, working time is an essential criterion for future of work. Telework, remote work and Homeoffice. Part-time models and flexitime are also expected to be important working models in the context of digitalisation, the study states.

Another focus is the use of technology in companies. For example, the use of computers, modern software as well as industry 4.0 applications. play a role in everyday work, making time in front of computer screens significantly increase and standard tasks are increasingly outsourced to technology Be.

The next focus is on the topic of (Next) Education. Increased use of computers is increasingly expected to be more qualified. Continuing training in the form of Computer courses are a crucial aspect here. In addition, for so-called ‘low earners’ (e.g. auxiliary workers) are at risk of the current job could be automated, putting this profession at risk Is.

Another aspect is social security. It shows that the safety of careers and employment contracts is lower even in large corporations that have long been considered to be considered safe. On the other hand, the risk of job losses in many professions. Study participants confirmed an increased uncertainty in the labour market and demonstrate a need for social protection by the State or even after a safe workplace, e.g. in the public sector.

The final focus is on participation by employees in the company. A distinction is made between collective and individual participation: at the collective level, employee representation soliciting and exchanging representatives of the workforce with board members are required. At the individual level, more influence should be made possible on one’s own field of activity, on the degree of self-realization in the workplace and on personal progress.

Study 2: IDG Research Centre

The second study was carried out by the IDG Research Centre (2018). The aim was to examine the workplace in the context of digitalisation. More than 300 IT managers and 300 professionals from companies. The study focuses on the adaptation of the entire IT in the workplace to meet the requirements of employees and Customers.

The biggest challenges at the moment are the study participants in the following respects:

  • Adaptation of IT infrastructure (50,9 %),
  • Data security (48%),
  • setting standards (26%),
  • Effective linking of IT (22.5%) und
  • Replacement of legacy systems (19.6%).

In addition, the study included the most important wishes of employees in the workplace. The main mentions were: flexible working hours, fast and efficient IT, a feel-good atmosphere at the workplace through new office concepts, ergonomics and teamwork, as well as a large number of self-services in the IT sector. In addition to efficient IT, the realization of these wishes often entails the renovation of existing office space. The following illustration lists the aspects you want.

Wishes of employees for the workplace of the future (n=300) (own figure according to IDG 2018)

Another point in the study relates to the provision of hardware and software at the workplace. Especially important to employees are hardware such as smartphones, multiple monitors, tablets and the cooperation of the aforementioned hardware, e.g. by integrating software or docking stations. On the other hand, software for video conferencing and chat systems is mentioned. On this point too, the cooperation of the software is important for the study participants (see figure).

Current requirements of employees for the office workplace (n=300) (own figure according to IDG 2018)

Conclusion

According to the experts interviewed, the active organisation of the place of work and working time should be an essential criterion for the future of work. The studies provide numerous indications regarding hardware and software. In addition, the study included the most important wishes of employees in the workplace. In addition to efficient IT, the realization of these wishes often entails the renovation of existing office space.

Sources

BMAS. (2016). Value Worlds 4.0. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/PDF-Publikationen/Forschungsberichte/wertewelten-arbeiten-vier-null.pdf;jsessionid=DD818B61A983EC4DBBC558215A0DCC78?__blob=publicationFile&v=2

IDG 2018 – Workplace of the Future – https://www.arbeitsplatzderzukunft.de/wp-content/uploads/IDG-Studie_Arbeitsplatz-der-Zukunft_2018.pdf

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/arbeitsplatz-team-gesch%C3%A4ftstreffen-1245776/

Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.