Challenges in the design of future forms of work
Technical innovations and increasing digitalisation have an impact on every aspect of work: such as tasks and activities, equipment and interfaces, organisation and the working environment. Further research is needed in this area to ensure the design of healthy workplaces.
The concept of "Industry 4.0" refers to an interconnected industrial production system in which the physical and the digital world merge. However, not only the industrial sector is affected by new technologies. For example, "smart services" are created by combining new types of products with physical and digital services. In nursing, for example, patient's health can be monitored by modern sensor technology, while robotic technology assists nursing staff with routine handling tasks. Furthermore, technical advances allow for completely new, flexible forms of work and give rise to new business processes for companies. Even for "classical" service sectors, substantial changes arise, especially where the service provision can be supported by new types of technology.
These changes offer opportunities for safe and healthy working practices. However, they rely on foresighted and humane work design. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) therefore studies the impacts of new technologies and forms of work in production and service contexts in order to derive practice-oriented knowledge of humane work design. This work incorporates aspects of mental and physical stress and strain, as well as ethical and legal aspects. These aspects are reflected in, for example, questions of technical and organisational design, adequate decision latitude, transparency and feedback, promotion of learning, and competence. This allows the early detection of potential opportunities and risks and the highlighting of design possibilities.
Through its research, BAuA provides innovative contributions to scientific discourse and profound policy advice. We also incorporate our findings into regulation, in particular technical rules or standards.