11 – 15 April 2016   print this page

Course directors:

Mikael Ottosson, Lund University, Sweden
Calle Rosengren, Lund University, Sweden
Doris Holtmann, Helmut-Schmidt University, Germany
Wenzel Matiaske, Helmut-Schmidt University, Germany

Course description:

Working life is undergoing a radical change in which new digital technologies are changing the nature of labour and its organizational forms in a pervasive manner, regardless of whether it concerns qualified professionals or labourers.

The framework which previously regulated the content of work, as well as when, where and how it would be conducted, is being reconsidered. A process that presents both challenges and possibilities.

One fundamental aspect of ICT is that it can make employees more accessible to others and allow work to become more available to the employee. Easy access to ICT functions (e.g., email, text and voice messages), for example, enable employees to continue working after leaving the office for the day. This ease of access may have both positive and negative effects. Although much of the research focus to date has concentrated on how ICT may act as demands, stressors or certain characteristics of ICT can enhance work-life balance, employee satisfaction, well-being and productivity.

Another aspect of new digital technologies concerns the manner in which the work process is monitored and controlled. Surveillance in the workplace is not a novelty. Nor is it unreasonable to expect that employers have both rights and reasons to do so. To a certain extent, of course. However, increasing availability of relatively inexpensive and easy to use technology, for example software monitoring programs, enables employers to expand the range and scope of their control over their employees’ activities. The increase in potential methods to track and monitor employee behaviour poses questions that concern where the borders for personal integrity are drawn. Who has the right to personal details, and at what point? In what way does this monitoring affect the social relations between employer and employee in terms of control, autonomy andtrust?

Digital technology, in computers, phones or in the “Internet of things” also provides tools that enable the standardization of work on a completely different level than previously. For some workers, we see a degradation and depletion of work, and also that the control of work is increasing; a development that is usually described using the concept of “Digital Taylorism.” How does this development affect the working man or the working class?

We would like to discuss our topic in an appropriately broad and interdisciplinary manner. We are particularly interested in questions such as:

  • Virtual work and stress
  • Digital technologies and work-family boundaries
  • Virtual teams and E-leadership
  • Digital Taylorism
  • Virtual work and trust
  • Digital surveillance
  • This is not an exhaustive list.