Monitoring the digital world of work

The public debate on the consequences of digitalisation for safety and health at work reveals various aspirations and fears. Our research has the objective of providing facts to make the discourse on the topic more objective.

How is the digitalisation of the world of work affecting the health, motivation and performance of employees? In recent years, this question has become quite prevalent in scientific research and political debates as well as among the general public. Both the opportunities and risks are being discussed: on the one hand, it is assumed that digitalisation will increase the pressure of work and require employed persons to work increasingly quickly. On the other hand, however, the decision latitude of employed persons seems to be increasing.

So far, however, only a limited amount of representative data is available for investigating work demands in the digital world of work. Researchers working on this problem also face the challenge of correctly demarcating the complex phenomenon of "digitalisation" in investigative studies. After all, it is a very wide-ranging topic: working in tandem with robots and drones, control by the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), the increasing use of mobile, networked auxiliary devices, as well as mobile working on laptops are all part of the complex topic of digitalisation.

The monitoring of the digital world of work forms part of the BAuA focus programme on "Occupational Safety and Health in the Digital World of Work". The focus here lies on the systematic gathering and analysis of data regarding the research topic. Employees from all occupational groups will be included in the monitoring. Differences between the groups are to be highlighted as well as the general trends. Analyses of specific tasks will also be completed.

The following questions will be addressed:

  • How is digitalisation changing the world of work? How does digitalisation relate to other drivers of change?
  • What effects is digitalisation having on work demands, working conditions and the organisation of work?
  • How are the work demands in different tasks changing?
  • What new requirements are employed persons facing? Which resources are important for being able to cope effectively with these requirements?
  • What does this mean for the various systems in place for ensuring occupational safety and health?

To answer these questions, data records from large-scale representative surveys will be analysed, including the BIBB/BAuA Employment Survey, the BAuA Working Time Survey and the "Digitalisation and Change in Employment" (DiWaBe) survey. Additional analyses of data relating to employed persons and companies should allow for a focus at the company level. Findings from BAuA projects on digitalisation that are both ongoing or completed will also be included in the analyses. The project will also integrate and take advantage of the knowledge of experts in the field through workshops and panel discussions.