Transformation of Work Through Digitalization
- 01.07.2016 to 31.12.2020
- Research Area:
- Work Science Support for Change and Transformation Processes
The increasing digitalization of work systems poses significant challenges for companies. Examples of this are the change or expansion of job definitions or the management of employees and teams in increasingly delimited work systems. The research focus of “Arbeit in der Digitalisierten Welt” (Work in the digitalized world) picked up on the central goal of the federal government's high-tech strategy, to look at the effects of digital technologies on employment and labor markets, health protection and company organization, and to develop and disseminate approaches to solutions for working in the digital world.
The aim of the joint project TransWork was to analyze and evaluate the changes in work through digitalization. This was done in the current research fields of work design (skills development, mastering complexity, productivity management and design and the regulation of work). The ultimate goal was the target-group specific communication of examples of "good work" design to those involved in setting standards. In addition, the joint project TransWork identified and closed research and development gaps. This was done specifically for the benefit of the projects with this research focus and for the further development of this research area.
Within the framework of this project, the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) – at RWTH Aachen University was responsible for the sub-project “Exploration und Durchdringung der Komplexitätsanforderungen in vernetzten Systemen” (Exploration and penetration of complexity requirements in networked systems). It pursued the overarching goal of reducing complexity by analyzing, evaluating, and systematizing the effects of digitalization in the working environment and increasing the controllability of complexity in work systems.
Due to the many ways that it manifests itself, the concept of complexity first had to be (re)defined. Then, independent of the economic sector, we determined the drivers of complexity in increasingly digitalized work systems and systematized them. Further qualitative and quantitative investigations – e.g. interviews with experts, company and online surveys, simulation studies – concentrated on the two applications, project work and group work in production systems.
As part of the monitoring of the funding priority “Arbeit in der digitalisierten Welt“ (Work in the digitalized world)", the IAW coordinated the focus group “Projekt- und Teamarbeit in der digitalisierten Arbeitswelt“ (Project and team work in the digitalized working world). An online survey was designed, conducted and evaluated to identify research priorities and further research needs.
In addition to a complexity measure for assembly teams, which was successfully evaluated in simulation studies, this project also created and empirically investigated a group performance model for production teams. With this model, existing scientific-engineering complexity considerations, which mainly look at complexity from a technical point of view, can now be supplemented by holistic work science considerations of complexity in socio-technical production systems. In the field of project management, it was possible to identify fundamental complexity indicators and their effects on the stress of project managers and the success of project management. The scientific findings were incorporated into the prototype of the “Teamtracker”, a web application for coordinating project tasks and processes, especially in remote working teams. Special focus is placed on the different stresses and requirements placed on individual employees and the resulting strain.
The focus group has published the anthology Projekt- und Teamarbeit in der digitalisierten Arbeitswelt – Herausforderungen, Strategien und Empfehlungen (Project and Team Work in the Digitalized Working World – Challenges, Strategies and Recommendations). In 10 articles the anthology takes an analytical look at the conditions under which project and teamwork takes place today. Challenges are identified and recommendations are given for the design, organization and management of modern forms of project and teamwork.
The joint project TransWork (funding code: 02L15A162) was one project in a group of research projects focusing on “Arbeit in der Digitalisierten Welt“ (Work in the digitalized World). Under the umbrella program “Innovationen für die Produktion, Dienstleistung und Arbeit von morgen“ (Innovations for the Production, Services and Work of Tomorrow), the BMBF – Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) – funded research projects that find implementable solutions to maintain and expand value creation and jobs in Germany, organize work in an economically and socially acceptable way, and design production and service processes efficiently.