The current understanding of digitalization encompasses more than the vision of a fully automated and technology-oriented development of the German corporate landscape. This guiding vision undoubtedly creates complexity in the implementation of such projects, because digitalization is more than just working with an Internet connection. On the contrary, digitalization is changing our entire world of work with a rapid and unstoppable speed. It turns out that hierarchical organizations with control bodies and managers are giving way to increasingly networked and project-oriented companies that are optimized for speed and innovation. Plan orientation, long-termism and homogeneous teams are a thing of the past, because methods such as Scrum and Co make our working world heterogeneous, fast and flexible.

What is digital self-organization?

A look at practice shows that digitality is increasingly leading to a change in a traditional understanding of hierarchical organizational structures and a softening of legitimation power or even the other way around (cf. Zeichhardt). Examples, the CMS system WordPress was developed project-based. There are no offices, no fixed working hours and internal communication is done via a company-owned chat system and blogs. Every single developer was self-organized. In traditional companies, too, projects are increasingly supported by tools and teams are increasingly distributed. And be it when an employee works from the home office.

Controlandibility and control is becoming increasingly difficult for management on the one hand and must be replaced by self-organisation and trust on the other. Information can be distributed in real time, and any employee can communicate with anyone, regardless of location and time. In this virtual space, so many interactions happen that a single manager can no longer capture them or evaluate the amount of data and interactions. Also, this status may be outdated again until the evaluation. Another consequence of acceleration is that tasks are increasing rapidly. This can be seen on Jira Boards with more than 600 open tasks and overflowing lists of open points.

But the need for self-organization is also increasing for the employee. Especially in work that is flexible in location and time, employees need to organise themselves better. If a manager has previously controlled everything, an employee must now organize himself in a so-called virtual room.

digital self-organization
Especially in the home office you work in a virtual room (inspired from Zeuchhardt)

Digital self-organization in mobile work and home office

Homeoffice is the dream of many employees and promises maximum flexibility at work and saves the commute. But especially the daily work in the home office takes place in a virtual space already shown in the illustration.

As the magazine CIOsays: However, mobile working models require more organization. Company agreements define the legal framework. This sometimes ranges from the equipment of the home office to the heating bill of the home office. Information events and clear agreements at the beginning of the project also help employees to talk about doubts and concerns with their superiors. Finally, many agreements also include how employees can record their working hours and how they deal with the issue of data protection.

Furthermore, it is not possible to simply go to colleagues and coordinate as usual. In the home office, you always use e-mails, web meetings and Skype. You always have to look to organize information, tasks and contacts. The setting up of the workplace is also left to the employee himself. What many often do not consider: Even one’s own person can become a source of disturbance if there is a lack of self-discipline. You have to be productive on the one hand and at the same time not forget the work-life balance.

Digital self-organization in new office concepts

Many companies copy this coffeehouse atmosphere and transfer it into modern working environments by creating meeting spaces that are intended to activate lively dialogue and informal exchange among employees. Of course not without entrepreneurial calculation. From a strategic point of view, such an investment pursues the goal of increasing employee motivation and generating a willingness to change. Self-initiative, innovative thinking and self-organization should be promoted for the benefit of value creation and business development (Source Product Manager Blog).

One can already see in this quotation: self-organization and initiative are the focus. Employees increasingly have to look for desks themselves with Flexdesk concepts and decide in which part of the building they work where and how. highly concentrated, group meeting,… you are always on the move. Every day requires a lot of organization and the hourly view of the calendar is necessary to get from A to B in time. Is the colleague in the home office, do I need a meeting room or a web session, do I want to work concentrated today, should I book a beanbag in the open space? All this is up to you!

Reading Tip: Zeichhardt: Success Factor Performance Management


Home office, mobile work and new office complexes create digital spaces in which a higher self-organization becomes necessary. This has numerous opportunities, but also demands more from the employee and is examined under the concept of digital self-organization. How is it going for you, tell me in the small survey!

Hat die Notwendigkeit von Selbstorganisation bei Ihnen zugenommen?
Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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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.

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