How does digital technology affect work

Digital working world and health

The new technologies bring many advantages and opportunities for employees in certain employment relationships, e.g. relief from difficult or dangerous tasks, more flexibility and self-determination in work or a better work-life balance.

Digitization goes hand in hand with a high degree of flexibility in working hours and place of work, which at the same time means a high degree of individualization and should also enable a high work-life balance. The form of networked and virtual activity also allows flexible work in teams.

New technologies also enable cost reductions, while growth is generated through the development of new products and services.

However, digital technologies can also lead to health problems under certain working conditions, e.g. if work cannot be organized flexibly or work and private life are becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate due to digitization.

Physical complaints

In the digital world of work, physical stress caused by heavy work (e.g. heavy lifting and carrying) is decreasing more and more. Much of the work that used to be done manually is increasingly being performed by computer-controlled machines or robots.

At the same time, there are increasing complaints that can arise from sedentary work or the use of a computer. These include, for example, back problems or irritation of the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the arm (tennis elbow and golfer's elbow). This is why ergonomic standards are also important when working on the move or in the home office.

Mental stress

The challenges of the digital world of work also increase psychological stress, especially in the area of ​​knowledge work. Possible causes of excessive demands are e.g.

  • constant accessibility,
  • simultaneous completion of different tasks (multitasking),
  • high complexity of work,
  • Information overload,
  • few personal contacts, increased pressure to perform, etc. in new forms of work organization such as crowdworking.

The trend towards time and location-independent work is increasing the blurring of the boundaries between work and private life. A negative consequence of “not being able to switch off” is a lack of recovery. This can lead to burnout or depression.

Some experts see the risk of developing addictive behavior in the intensive use of mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets that they can no longer control themselves.

Even in the area of ​​robotics-supported production, mental stress can arise, e.g. through monotonous, little self-determined activities.