Beautiful new world. What promises us new work sounds promising. Work is no longer just a nasty job that only enables us to have a good life after hard working hours. Rather, it fills us with meaning and with the feeling of contributing to the common good. In this world, leadership also has a different character. Instructions are out of date; just as little as the well-known pattern of controlling employees from above with a feeling of technical superiority. No: New leadership is directed towards people and gives them a free hand to design their own work. Managers thus become coaches and personnel developers.
Like so much, the digital transformation drives these discussions and at the same time combines wonderfully with the needs of the younger generation to spell work differently. This is anything but groundbreaking, as it is in the tradition of Frithjof Bergman. He had postulated New Work in the early 1970s. In addition to meaningful work, he opted for decentralized forms, which is also popular today. On this point, too, the digital pace has thrown a lot overboard, such as top-down and procedures planned from A to Z. Our VUCA world is too complex for that.
Instead of the classic line organization, the music therefore plays in agile, self-organizing teams that are on the move digitally with new methods in the interests of their customers. Digitization, purpose and iterative action – in this triad the much-sung melody of the new world of work resounds. But, is this really the truth? Or are we standing in front of a colorful shop window full of loud hip terms that hide something else? At least working sociologists doubt whether a thoroughly digitized world with its algorithms and AI approaches will run as freely and self-organized as its apologists promise.
Three examples from the world of work support her assessment. The first is about the mechanism known from the e-commerce world to evaluate transactions. Some companies have transferred this into their internal structures: Employees evaluate their interactions with colleagues, with consequences: People with a high score are waving a raise, the broad middle field has the zero round and low-rated people have to lead the way. As is well known, the digital assessment can be used to force desired behavior, and greetings from China.
In the second case, algorithms monitor and analyze the work of employees in the background and automatically assign tasks to them when the old ones are done. Big Brother is watching you. It remains to be seen what happens when the HR department discovers the blessings of a digital black box on a large surface and controls the employees via big data evaluations. A lot will happen here, especially in the period after COVID-19.
The last example is real-time feedback for employees in production: smart digital gloves with sensors immediately send feedback to people about their actions and tell them how to do them better. In this way, they optimize (at least) people’s actions and control them.
Employee appraisals, the automated allocation of work and the constant optimization of human actions: digital solutions by no means bury the Taylorist approaches of the industrial age. In my opinion, a new black box will beat the new beat of work in the future. Their internal clockwork regulates and automates all processes and workflows. It replaces the processes still regulated in companies by means of manuals and documentation, as well as the structure of the industrial division of labor. Analog Taylorism develops into digital and counteracts the hope that digitalization will force self-determined work.
On the other side of this development, decentralized teams are establishing themselves even more than before. The degree of their freedom is determined by the contribution they make to the added value of their company and the extent to which they cannot be replaced digitally. If both apply, digital technologies help them to spend more time directly with their customers. That would be a successful synthesis of both worlds, the analog and the digital.
For leadership, it means transferring their control function to technology. Instead, it takes on the task that fits like a fist: leadership tells meaning and combines the purpose of the company with the work of the employees. Metaphysical accompanying music in a fully digitized world, played by new leadership patterns.
- AI in the company and personnel management
Artificial intelligence (AI) holds enormous potential for companies, for example when used in personnel management. Joachim Skura, Thought Leader Human Capital Management at Oracle, mentions the advantages of AI and important factors that need to be considered when planning and using it.
- Cooperation between managers
With AI technology pervading all levels of the company today, HR managers need to work with other executives to develop automation strategies for individual teams.
- Combine intelligence
AI has to rethink the workforce: it’s no longer just about hiring people. Rather, human and artificial intelligence must be combined to maximize productivity.
- Sensible process automation
A very important aspect of using AI is to put the pursuit of more efficiency in relation to the actual possibilities. Just because a process can be automated does not mean that you should do it. This also applies to human resources.
- Don’t create a big brother atmosphere
AI can be very helpful for the security of the company. Many companies use AI technology to continuously monitor applications, systems and infrastructure and to detect and evaluate abnormal behavior in real time. Here, companies should make absolutely sure that no “big brother atmosphere” is created. The HR department plays an important role in this.
- Leverage data and technology
AI should be used in hiring and staffing plans. The reason: It is important to exploit contextual data and technologies in order to tackle problems such as high fluctuation rates, to better understand employees and to use the existing pool of talents more effectively. This is the only way to make work smarter, more enjoyable and more collaborative – and ultimately also more value-adding.
- Use AI in recruiting
Artificial intelligence is also becoming increasingly important in recruiting. Recruiters use AI to find out what skills the company currently needs and where to find suitable candidates.
- Automate application management
With the help of AI, time-consuming tasks such as manual screening of resumes and applicant pools can be automated.
- Build candidate experience
Powerful and integrated AI functions and clear processes help to create a user-friendly and personalized candidate experience in HR management from the first contact to recruitment and integration.
- More efficiency through machine learning
State-of-the-art machine learning applications help human resources to shorten time-to-hire by proactively pre-selecting the most suitable candidates and making recommendations.
- Use chatbots
A chatbot can be a data source that companies can use to learn more about their employees. Machine learning analyzes of questions and conversations can provide unique and previously impossible insights. In this way, underlying problems can be uncovered – and maybe even before the employee is even aware of them.
Of course, it is by no means certain that the future world of work will develop as I outline it. But the digital productive forces are sure to create a new form of work. Here, the range extends from an optimistic view, in which digital technologies relieve us of tedious tasks and thereby make us more creative, to the opposite pole: with him, people are dependent on digital solutions and increasingly lose their effectiveness and decision-making power.
However, what arises from digitization depends on us: We humans can negotiate discursively how we want to use digital technologies. Because when it comes to the question of what freedom and self-determination are worth to us in the world of work, the digital black box is silent. On the other hand, we are faced with the question of whether we as a society should decide how we should structure the relationship between people and technology or whether private investments should set the direction in their direction.
The social philosopher Harald Welzer put it in a nutshell: “Having algorithms dictate how you should live is the return of man to self-inflicted immaturity. One could also say artificial stupidity. A mature society does not understand digitization as Fate, but as a design task. ” (pg / fm)
- Markus Michael, Byon
The topic of data protection has been very present in recent years. But that is gradually changing because the large number of feared security incidents or cyber attacks has failed to materialize. This increases the acceptance of the cloud, even in the middle class. If you don’t think in cloud terminology today, you won’t get the transformation in the end.
- Christian Malzacher, Bechtle
The usage behavior associated with cloud technology is a key component of modern work. But technology is only part of modern work. It is accordingly important to familiarize employees, and especially management, with modern technologies and how to use them through good transformation management. The topic of modern workplace should be anchored in the corporate strategy.
- Klaus Wieland, DXC
In a global company, mobile work must be an integral part of everyday life. But the organization can vary widely: While I was physically in the office a few months ago myself, there are colleagues you meet there every day.
- Necla Haskioglu-Larsch, Genesys
Especially in times when home office is very up to date, we receive many inquiries from large and small companies. Advice, however, needs intelligence to be able to “read” the customer’s real requirements. Together, it is then a matter of formulating a strategically consistent goal and working towards its realization.
- Andreas Henning, Microsoft
Firstly, the workplace of the future can only be reached together and secondly only holistically. On the one hand, I have to take everyone from employees to middle management to corporate management, on the other hand, I have to take into account every aspect of working: the technology, the culture, but also something like the furnishing of the work rooms. For this reason, we are cooperating with an office furniture manufacturer, for example, in order to achieve even more holism.
- Helmut Freytag, Placetel
For many entrepreneurs, however, cloud still means loss of control. For this reason, the “box”, ie the physical server, almost awakens romantic feelings, whereby the opportunities and positive influences of the cloud are hidden. Our task must be to let the arguments speak for themselves in terms of safety and to alleviate these concerns.
- Kai Kielhorn, Atos
When looking at the digital workplace, we no longer separate “traditional” between physical and virtual, but look at the complete work experience. This mainly comprises three dimensions: People, Places and Platforms! It is no longer just about enabling home offices, but creating an integrated workplace concept that covers all of these dimensions.