The future of work in the context of the digitization of many areas of life is summarized under the term “Work 4.0”. Sounds simple, but in practice it is highly complicated: The buzzword “Work 4.0” conceals a plethora of unresolved labor law issues for employers, managers and employees Manager magazine .
in the Article about work 4.0 Telekom and St. Gallen put forward some theses on the world of work 4.0. In this text I take the top 3 theses, which I consider realistic, and the top 3, which I don’t think will come true. The evaluation is based on my own opinion, the results of my research and with reference to the IT industry. For each thesis I also present some further articles, as far as possible.
Reading tip. What is work 4.0

Statements about the world of work 4.0, which are likely

The role of people in the production process is transformed from the provider of work to the supervisor of the machines. Routine processes and also physically demanding activities are handled independently by them. Humans only control and intervene in an emergency.

I think this thesis is especially correct for IT. Many scripts and Excel macros make up a large part of our work to this day. Even mine Portal Projektify all possible activities are also automated. Here we follow the thesis of the decentralized autonomous company. So a company without people. The current focus is on automating all daily tasks. We are now also talking about chatbots and intelligent helpers. So I think that this thesis is already very true.

With Big data there are sufficient data for data for all areas of life. The ability to combine and interpret these in a meaningful way is a key qualification in digital work and cannot be substituted. Working with big data differs from traditional data analysis, however, because hypotheses are no longer required (“end of theory”).

We have currently collected a lot of data, but we are usually not able to evaluate all of them or we evaluate them and then ask ourselves: Well and what do we learn from it now? Even at the beginning of my doctoral thesis, I have 14 interviews for the Study agility in management carried out and when I have evaluated the data, I ask myself: “What does that tell me now?” A high level of key skills is therefore required in order to evaluate a large amount of unstructured data.

The departure from spatially located work goes hand in hand with a change from the presence culture to the result culture. Managers need to learn that they will motivate more than control. The trick is to build and maintain personal ties even through impersonal technical channels.

Home office, flexible desks, mobile work and even distributed teams as well as complete home office workplaces demand a new type of leadership from managers. Control is less possible and must be replaced by trust. How do I guide an employee via email and Skype? How do I manage the balancing act between controllability and control? I cannot currently find a common management method that gives an answer to these questions. In agile leadership in particular, the elements are missing, which is why we are now talking about digital leadership. I think this thesis is absolutely correct. Read more about this in digital leadership article.
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Top 3 statements about the world of work 4.0 that are not likely

Companies are relying less and less on the company’s workforce to provide specific services. Global transparency of skills and the availability of highly qualified specialists lead to “hiring on demand”. The employment relationship turns into a labor commitment.

When I addressed the topic in the roundtable, it was immediately viewed with skepticism and I, too, cannot imagine that we will only consist of external parties. Above all, the trend is currently more towards in-sourcing than out-souring. An agile corporate culture can often only happen on the basis of permanent employees. This was also confirmed to me by my participants in the round table. External people simply do not have a close bond with the company, which will soon be gone anyway.

The increasing importance of IT opens the way for the “nerds” to the top floors of the company. What the musical child prodigies were in the past are now the precocious app tinkerers and data experts. This generation will make a significant contribution to the disruptive change in corporate cultures. From now on it is not formal qualifications, but exclusively technical skills that determine employability.

Leadership is still a supreme discipline. The quality of the work often depends on the boss and every second dismissal should even be because of a boss. I would therefore argue that empathy and agile values are becoming more important for a leadership role every day. Read more about this in Article on leadership in digital change .

The place of work of people in flexible working relationships is spreading to the public space. Physical offices are temporary anchor points for human interaction that primarily serve the networks. People work everywhere – just not at their own desk.

Clear. Everything is becoming mobile, flexible and automatic, but when I did the first surveys, it turns out that everyone actually likes to go to their workplace. I also asked Generation Z for this and came to similar results. The round table also showed that people are creatures of habit and that they want a permanent job. For example, despite a free choice of seats, everyone was sitting in the same place in the team again. So there is currently hardly any argument why the classic office should die out and nobody goes there anymore. To me, the office as an anchor point for interactions sounds more like this: We just go to the office to chat and to evaluate the Bayern game from yesterday. Read more about this in Article on the Roundtable on Work 4.0.
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Conclusion: There is a lot of speculation!

The world of work 4.0 is coming and we are eagerly awaiting the innovations. The workplace is digitizing and everything is somehow becoming agile and mobile. We can currently only speculate what these changes will entail. In my Article on digitization in the workplace I have already pointed out opportunities and risks. Some things like more flexible work and more automation are clearly emerging and are understandable as theses. But on the other hand, for theses like: “Man will command a drone army at some point”, I currently do not find any valid arguments. Sentences like: “Everything will be totally flexible and everyone will get involved in the company” will, I think, hardly come across. Not every worker seeks total self-fulfillment at work. So there will continue to be wage work and even a motivated employee has a bad day or has looked a little too deep into the glass the evening before and just wants some peace and quiet. That is why we can currently only speculate what will actually be implemented in the world of work 4.0 and what will not. For example, I would not want the reception of a hotel to be digitized. I am happy to be welcomed by an employee there and also to be greeted with a handshake by my trainer laughing at the gym. We just have to understand more precisely: What do we expect from the world of work 4.0?
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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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