Transwork: How Digitalisation is Transforming Work

Following on from our recent posts on the nature of how future work is being transformed, Transwork is a joint research project being run by the Fraunhofer IAO inquiring into how digitalisation is transforming work.

As is already clear, digital technologies are revolutionising the way we work. The effects are far reaching, ranging from the impact on employment, labour markets, occupational health and safety, to the way businesses are being structured. Transwork aims to develop approaches and solutions to the changes that digitalisation has meant for working in the digital world, and to make these solutions accessible.

While there are many examples and experiences of how work has already changed (such as computer controlled production processes, data processing, network connectedness) the major processes of transformation largely lie ahead of us. The biggest of these challenges will be the effects on people, specifically on jobs and employment. For this reason, the German government has developed its ‘digital’ strategy, one aspect of which is to address this issue.

The Transwork project has two parts: firstly to carry out new and independent research in the field, and secondly, to look at the best practices from other research projects. The goal of the joint research project is to examine current research areas of work design–including skills development, managing complexity, productivity management, and job design and regulation–in order to analyse and evaluate how digitalization is changing work. The next task is then to compile and transfer examples of how to design “good work” in a way that makes them accessible to target groups.

Some of the key areas for dealing with the digital future of work will be education, training and qualification. The solutions for improved work design need to be connected to educational institutions and transferred to the working environment. The project will also play a role in disseminating the research results via various forums, such as the German Society of Ergonomics (GfA) and the German government’s high-tech forum. The results will also be incorporated in research and teaching and in the interdisciplinary consortium’s operational support portfolio.

The “Transwork – The Transformation of Work through Digitalization” project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the umbrella program “Innovations for Tomorrow’s Production, Services, and Work.”

Photo credit: “www.colourbox.com”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from Fraunhofer IAO.

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