Work 4.0 Dialogue
E-commerce, big data, crowdfunding and cloud working – a few years ago these terms and similar keywords were only familiar to experts. Meanwhile they belong to everyday life. Digitalization has found its way into our lives – whether private or professional. Work has also changed; it offers many more opportunities than two decades ago. New markets and professions have been created, working hours and methods are changing too. At the same time digitalization entails risks: jobs are subject to cuts, employees are expected to be available 24/7. These changes have obviously not been lost on politicians. The German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs addressed this topic in detail in the “Work 4.0 Dialogue“. The opening event took place on April 22, 2015, under the slogan “Re-imagining work”. Andrea Nahles, Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, welcomed 300 experts to discuss topics surrounding the future of the workplace. At the same time, the basis of the dialogue was presented: the Green Paper Work 4.0.
What is the Green Paper?The document shows the trends and scenarios of the changing world of work. In the chapter “Work 4.0: re-imagining work” the paper addresses for example, whether today’s society needs new guiding principles for work. The third chapter deals with the challenges of the current market, examines faulty actions and asks many key questions. An insight into employment relevant institutions is given in part 4 of Work 4.0 – for example how can labor law, code of industrial relations, collective bargaining law and occupational safety be integrated in the change. The last chapter of the Green Paper Work 4.0 offers solutions: issues that came up were answered in an open dialogue. The dialogue included an expert panel as well as a public dialogue that anyone could participate in.
What was the dialogue about?The particpants of the expert panel were invited by the Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs. The guests included experts from science and industry such as Prof. Dr. Ralph Bruder from the TU Darmstadt and Dr. Elke Frank from the Deutschen Telekom AG. Further expert consultants gave workshops on a regular basis. The documentation workshops were always dedicated to a specific subject area. The second workshop was for example under the slogan ” Mobile and borderless work”. After each round of expert talks and after every workshop the intermediate results were presented in public events and also online in the form of reports and videos. The mid-term “Work 4.0” conference took place in Berlin on March 15. Federal Minister Nahles drew up an interim balance and discussed all the issues that arose in the Green Paper. Christian Rozsenich, the managing director of clickworker GmbH ,as well as Jörg Hagedorn, representing the Central Association of German Craft Industry and Trades, Veronika Mirschel from ver.di and Prof.Dr. Gert Wagner from the Association for Applied Insurance Sciences and design were invited to the discussion panel “Future and social security”. The panel was presented by Sven Astheimer (FAZ). The topic revolved around the “Advantages and disadvantages of involving freelancers in a mandatory old-age provision or in a statutory pension system.”
Parallel to the expert talks, Federal Minister Andrea Nahles visited companies in July 2015 to form her own opinion about the problems both employees and employers have to deal with, and what solutions can be found. Those interested could follow the so-called “summer journey” and Ms. Nahles on the Facebook page of the BMA (Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs) – a public discussion with non-experts was explicitly requested. Citizens could voice their opinion on Facebook and Twitter, and propose solutions or suggestions. The website of the GermanFederal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs gives a comprehensible view of the dialogue process Work 4.0. The page was also used as a platform for the exchange of opinions. In addition, the future of work was discussed offline: in autumn 2015, a movie festival held in 25 cities also served as a forum of discussion.
The result of the public and expert dialogue, the White Paper Work 4.0. will be presented at the final conference at the end of 2016. The results and insight acquired from the dialogue, the answers to most of the open questions and a list of possible constructive options will then be presented in the document.