Work 4.0 – brave new working world

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Work 4.0
© Paolo Cipriani /

What will the world of work look like in the future?

What does Work 4.0 mean? This question is filling column inches in traditional and online media alike. It is the focus of numerous discussion forums, too. What’s clear is that the way we work has already changed significantly. On every business trip I take, there is always someone working away on the train or the plane. And how many travelers make calls in the car, or open their laptop quickly while taking a break in a café?

Smart work 4.0 – opportunity or risk?

If you follow the various articles and discussions, it’s noticeable that this topic is one that polarizes opinion. On the one hand, you have those that are already living Work 4.0. Because they are looking forward to new ways of working with high expectations. Hence they are enthusiastic about the advantages of digital working. On the other hand, there are many who cannot get used to current developments. They focus on the disadvantages and negative aspects, too, such as the blurring of the lines between work and personal life, and the death of the ‘knocking-off time’ ritual.

The findings of one survey, ‘Shared values of Work 4.0’, sponsored by the government ministry for work and social services and run by nextpractice, painted a similar picture: What for one is a highly desirable future, threats others. Only around half the 1,200 employed people surveyed believed that their own working situation would be close to ideal for them by 2030. But positive expectations are on participation and development opportunities.

What the humble author thinks about work 4.0

Personally, I count myself as a pragmatic optimist on this issue. I am someone who is looking forward to the advantages of the new world of work. But I do want to address the negative aspects quickly, rather than trying to ignore them.

For me, “smart working”, means organizing work better than before. In terms of place and time, organizational structures, leadership styles and the phases of our personal lives. In 2030, I want to be happy in my work. I want to be fulfilled and find a good balance between work and private life. Whether Work 4.0 offers more opportunities than risks is about what one makes of it. And what one allows (or doesn’t allow) to happen.

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