Work has changed. People used to go to the office, sit at a desk and do all their work there. Not anymore: digitization has added a new dimension to how we work. "Every day" has become "anytime". "Here" has become "anyplace". We already view mobilization as the complete digitization of work. But when time and space converge in the real and virtual worlds, we need firm rules and a reliable structure.
“There’s no law requiring you to use smartphones for all your telecommunications. Instead, our clothes will increasingly take over this function.“ Claudia Nemat, Member of the Deutsche Telekom AG Board of Management, Europe and Technology
“Flexible forms of work and cooperation lead to employees always having one foot in the labor market.” Stefanie Kreusel, Chairwoman of Syntra, Deutsche Telekom’s management network
Mobilization of business processes and support of workflows in production, procurement, human resources and management reporting.
Author: Thomas von Zütphen Illustrations: Cindy Schmid; Foto: Lautenschlaeger/WirtschaftsWoche, Deutsche Telekom AG, privat
Germany quietly crossed a big threshold recently. According to a study conducted by HTW Berlin, a research university, 54 percent of productive employees in Germany were mainly or exclusively mobile workers at the start of the year. This marked the first time that people who worked “solely or primarily at a particular stationary workstation” were in the minority. This change would be impossible without digital workstations powered by a combination of artificial intelligence, software-defined products and increasingly sophisticated voice control on the one hand, and IT applications such as the cloud, big data and predictive analytics on the other. For Experton advisor Wolfgang Schwab, the terms “digital workplace”, “Workplace 4.0” or “future workplace” are misnomers. Instead, he talks about a “digital workspace where virtually all areas of our conventional desktop world and the modern mobile domain come together”.
But that’s not all: futurologists at the University of St. Gallen have identified no fewer than 25 emerging megatrends that will shape the next generation of work. Megatrends are developments that may take up to 30 years to completely unfold, but that immediately start to affect every area of our lives and jobs and – this much is clear – cannot be stopped by anyone or anything. Tomorrow’s jobs have no clear organizational allocation. Machines learn to think, become intelligent and essentially omnipresent through networking. Permanent employees lose importance while globally available skills of specialized experts gain importance.
The growing convergence of real and virtual mobility at the workplace, in employee productivity and in maintaining a work-life balance has put one aspect at center stage: security. These environments have to be highly secure in order to make ‘anytime, anywhere, any device’ modes of work reliable and securely available. Collaboration and shared collaboration generally require employees to leave their secure corporate network. This is a real concern, especially since the researchers at Sharepoint and the University of St. Gallen expect collaboration to play a growing role in work processes. The “geographical location of the service provider” will no longer play any role in the future. Instead, work will be as mobile as capital.
At the same time, employability will depend less on formal qualifications and more on technical ability in robotics, augmented reality or similar fields. Even so – machines and self-learning processes won't completely replace human labor and ingenuity. According to scientists, the automation of work is finite. Entrepreneurial ability, creativity and the control of machines are still “hard-to-replace skills”.