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Research issue in focus

Digital organising and the future of work

Digital organising encompasses a range of phenomena: from artificial intelligence (AI)-powered organisational decision-making to the global networking of workers in real time. Corporate boundaries are becoming more porous; work is becoming more fluid and less dependent on location and time. Therefore, the future of work is characterised, on the one hand, by spatial and temporal flexibility and, on the other, by the increasing interaction between people and technology. Through digitalisation, work is being replaced, relieved and restricted, or new work is being created.


What are the effects, advantages and disadvantages of digitalisation on the world of work?

Digital technologies can be used for increasingly complex activities in the world of work. For example, AI applications have already been used for years in the service sector and increasingly also in knowledge work. This offers opportunities and risks for employees. For example, digital innovations can relieve workers of strenuous, dangerous and monotonous tasks. They can also perform tasks in certain areas that exceed human capabilities. However, the use of digital technologies can also lead to a restriction of employees' scope of action or even to a loss of relevance of their work in the context of automation. In addition, the increasing mediation of work via platforms goes hand in hand with the emergence of new employment relationships. These offer opportunities, such as greater flexibility for workers, but also involve risks, such as a lack of security.

What do we mean by the future of work?

The future of work is a collective term for a field of research that deals with current and future changes in the world of work. We assume that some of the formative developments for the future of work are already emerging today in certain areas and can be empirically investigated accordingly. Examples include the use of AI in knowledge work, the mediation of work through platforms or the management of employees by algorithms.

What is digital organising?

A variety of digital tools and technologies, such as AI, blockchain and big data, have driven the development of new forms of digital organising. Digital organising encompasses different areas: for example, the use of data for AI-powered automated decision-making, but also the global real-time coordination of diverse stakeholders to organise and combat social challenges, such as in the context of global climate protests or in open-source networks.

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Digitaler salon

From the assembly line to AI

In our Digital Salon, we discuss the opportunities as well as the risks of AI and various options for a socially acceptable AI in the world of work (in German).


People Analytics at the workplace

When do we take breaks? When are we most productive? Who do we often work with? These questions answer the data we often unconsciously produce at work (in German).

Long Night of Science

The future of work from the perspective of workers

Whether you want to be a firefighter, a ballet dancer or maybe even a robot? What does your future of work look like and what will we be when we grow up (in German)?

Blog articles on the topic of digital organising and the future of work

Man sieht eine*n Lieferant*in eines Online-Lieferdienst für Essen auf einem Motorroller. Das Bild steht sinnbildlich für die Arbeitenden in der Gig Economy in Kenia. You see a delivery person from an online food delivery service on a scooter. The image is emblematic of the workers in the gig economy in Kenya.

Towards a socially just gig economy in Kenya: Stakeholder engagement and regulatory processes

The gig economy in Kenya is growing rapidly but conditions for workers are often precarious. We investigated the livelihoods of gig workers.

remote work is moving towards the city

The Anywhere Jobs are nowhere near – How remote work is moving towards the city

Remote working allows us to work from "anywhere". So why are cities, of all places, becoming the new mega-hubs for digital work? What does this change bring to rural regions...

Shaping AI in the interests of employees

Shaping AI in the interests of employees

AI offers opportunities and risks for employees. But what can managers and works councils do to enable potential positive effects and avoid negative effects?

Titelbild unsustainable behaviour extractive-practices-unsustainable-behavior

The case of culture: Extractive practices of work-life integration

From “move fast and break things” to a modern day workplace panopticon: Tech companies are treating their own workforce as mere productivity machines, driving the insatiable thirst for growth and...

Shaping the Airbnb Experience: How platform executives manage their service providers

Have you ever noticed that Airbnb stays tend to resemble each other quite a bit, regardless of whether you are staying in, say, London or Lisbon? If so, this is...

Myth: AI can accurately predict and optimize human behavior

People analytics promises to objectify and optimize employee-related decisions. Managers place high expectations on these tools, especially with a growing number of employees who work from home.

Germany: Hidden Champion of Online Platform Work?

Online freelancing is booming, not only in Germany. A new research hub at the University of Oxford shows how relevant the online gig-economy has become.

Man with a lot of post its on his face

Working from Home but Never Alone: Why People Analytics Have to Be Designed with the Employee in Mind

Remote working challenges management, employees and works councils alike. People analytics could offer support, but only if the software is designed with the employees’ well-being and privacy in mind.

Despite digital work: hierarchies remain

Providers, such as Slack, Trello or Yam, advertise to increase the participation of employees in organisations. Their software (“enterprise social software”) creates company-internal communication channels that function similar to social…

Employee empowerment or workers’ control? The use case of enterprise social networks

In the context of the digitization of the workplace, numerous companies are introducing digital platforms that are intended to strengthen employee participation. The implications of social media for the meaning…