Society is constantly changing and is experiencing fundamental changes in ever shorter periods. What was unthinkable not so long ago is now a reality or is imminent – from internet-enabled smartphones to self-driving cars to refrigerators that provide replenishment itself. Artificial intelligence is finding its way into our everyday lives and is changing the way we work and live. “so the Otto Group in the invitation to a blog parade . I would like to participate and see how digitization could change our working world.

Roundtable on Work 4.0

In order to better understand the world of work 4.0, I gathered several experts and debated this topic for 4 hours. In the following I would like to show the results and support them with quotes from the participants. More about the roundtable can be found here . The participants can be found in the following table.

CompaniespositionNumber of employees
labor unionBoard of Directors (IT)
IT service provider (e-commerce)Management80
Manufacturing companySupervisory board110
IT service provider (data center)Board180
IT concern)Agile coach7000
IT concern)Manager7000
Group (sport)Board55 000

The work 4.0

The future of work is discussed under the heading Work 4.0. There is no direct definition of this, but the term is also often used in marketing. In a round table For work 4.0, I worked with the participants to define initial guidelines on how work should look like in the course of digitization, and the following results were achieved:

  • Work 4.0 has to be agile!
  • Agility needs freedom!
  • Good work is voluntary!
  • The term “leadership” has to give way to “guiding”!
  • Work will be more dynamic and short-cycle in the future!
  • Work 4.0 is supported digitally!

This means that topics such as agility, freedom and voluntariness characterize the new world of work. One participant said: “So for me the first association with work 4.0 is the change from ‘work as a duty / must’ to ‘I can design something, I feel a purpose'” . The new work should also be supported digitally. To do this, a participant: “So digitization favors speed. If we still had pencil, paper and mail, that wouldn’t have been. “ and agile methods should contribute to making work more dynamic and short-cycle, according to the participants: “Well, I also believe that the Scrum issue has made a huge contribution to this.” This means that, unlike in the past, there will be a lot of small and rapidly changing work tasks. For example, a team leader used to give one employee 5-10 standard tasks per month, which is now more divided into 100 small tasks. In order to better understand this, I would like to explain the concepts behind Work 4.0 in more detail and give a few quotes from my participants from the roundtable.
Reading tip: What is work 4.0

New Work – work that is flexible in terms of location and time

Another point is work that is flexible in terms of location and time. One participant says: “So 30% is on average[im Home Office] . And […] home office[ist] of course no problem[und …] is often also approved. And working hours are also relaxed with us. There are no core working hours, you can come to us whenever you want. ” So it is possible that work can be done from anywhere, anytime. This is what the union’s executive committee also says in my round table: “Work wherever you want. With mobile devices this is no longer a problem at all. We have also created the company agreement in such a way that working hours are recognized from anywhere, i.e. theoretically also from the swimming pool. You document it. You can work from anywhere. Mobile work is an important topic.
So, with a view to the future, it seems that we can work from anywhere, anytime. This is often described with the vision of New Work, which is shown in the following figure.
Reading tip: What is New Work

The NewWork vision

New and agile office complexes

There are also new office concepts. There should be a workplace for every activity. Different zones should be set up in the office for, for example, quiet and creative work. I know many medium-sized companies as well as corporations that are currently converting their buildings. One participant in my roundtable also said: “Every table is available, it is not booked in advance, because ultimately it makes the system even more complex if I had to think about it every evening: Where do I sit tomorrow? That would just be too much of a hassle. And so, in principle, every workplace is free for everyone. I can sit down wherever I want. ” The classic desk is dying out, according to the participants. The following figure illustrates a possible interpretation of the new office models using the example of noris network from Nuremberg, which kindly approved the pictures for me. So in the future we will not only work at any time and place, but also in the “right place” for every activity.
Reading tip: What is futurework

The vision of Futurework

Agile teams

Furthermore, these new working models should not run using classic methods, but agile teams should organize themselves, arrange vacations with each other and in some companies even hire employees together. It will be exciting to see how this trend develops. The first effects of this finding can already be seen in agile Scrum teams (mostly in IT).
Reading tip: What is agile


The roundtable showed that the goal of the Work 4.0 projects is increased agility and voluntariness. Work 4.0 should be digitally supported, guided and more dynamic and short-cycle than current work. Work should also become more flexible in terms of time and location.
Overall, the roundtable showed that the need for novel concepts and models with which companies meet the design of Work 4.0 has existed for a long time. But only today have the framework conditions and the degree of digitization been created to actually implement these changes. Before that, on the one hand, the new office complexes had not yet been planned and, on the other hand, there was a lack of mobile technology (laptops and smartphones) and secure access as well as valid company agreements for mobile work and home office. So it remains exciting!
[werbung] [fotolia]


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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