re:view – Business & Work: Beyond the Buzzwords

Industry 4.0, big data, digital leadership, Internet of Things, robots, digital transformation – the stream of buzzwords is endless. The Business & Work track discussed to which extent new technologies really are changing the world of work, what effects industry 4.0 is having on daily life within the work context and what future teamwork could look like.

In this time of digitalisation, companies hope for cost optimisation and collective intelligence, crowdworkers value independence and flexibility. Crowdworkers are the employees of the future. “Arbeiten wir deswegen bald alle in der Cloud? (DE)” (Are we all going to be working in the Cloud soon?) – Jan Marco Leimeister, Director at the ITeG University Kassel and Dorothea Utzt, streetspotr co-founder & CEO, focused on this question to kick off the track. At the moment, there are still very few full-time crowdworkers – it’s still considered an extreme form of work. There is, however, a need for action: people working in the Cloud need comprehensive employment protection. The discussion brought forward demands for concrete proposals with the Code of Conduct for Crowdworking offering some initial guidelines.

Outsourcing used to mean relocating a company – today all you need is an internet connection. Employees can therefore be offered flexibility, but this should not come at the cost of the safety of their position. Part-time positions should then not be seen as the solution for more flexible jobs. Germany can and should take on a leading role in Europe’s digital economy and be a pioneer for flexible and simultaneously safe jobs. To ensure this, two things have to be combined: the security of the German middle class and the rising startup mentality. The goal should not be to copy the Silicon Valley model, as the experts including Steven Hill in the  "How can Germany be a leader in the digital economy? (EN)“ session stated.

It is already becoming clear: digitalisation promises simplification, but also drives complexity. The talk “Make life easy (again)!? Was wollen wir uns von Technologie abnehmen lassen und zu welchem Preis? (DE)“ (What do we want technology to alleviate us of and at what price?), took on this complexity and delivered various solutions. Speakers Martin Schallbruch and Jan Möller put forward the concept of ignoring complexity, following the motto of "Simply. Live. Digital.” Or users could also just trust a single platform and thereby reduce complexity. Solution number three found a special resonance: complexity can be managed with the help of a “Digital Angel”, allowing for a type of simplification to be purchased.

Getting into the mood of the re:publica motto, the Business & Work track also showed itself from its festival side. Discussions took place under the umbrella of the #HRFESTIVAL hashtag, touching on topics such as modern teamwork, digitale transformation as cultural change in companies, diversity sowie leadership and organisation in time of digitalisisation. Visitors to the IBM panel were able to enjoy some practical exercises, including breathing exercises, tango lessons and a live orchestra. 


The conclusion from the three days: The focus wasn’t just on new technologies and how they change our daily working life, but also on the employees, their concerns, needs and prospects in the age of digitalisation.

Of course, these weren’t the only panel discussions, talks and meet-ups featured in the Business & Work track at #rp17. You can find all the topics here, Video and audio clips can be found in the respective sessions or directly in the audio archive or on YouTube

by Kerstin Grünewald (FF)

Photo credit: re:publica/Jan Michalko (CC BY-SA 2.0)