The digitalisation of working life is progressing rapidly and is changing the social and physical conditions for how individuals relate to others.

 Digital communication technology, in the form of mobile phones and computers, bridges temporal and spatial limitations and facilitates communication between individuals. The use of digital technology can contribute to a mobile and flexible working life, while at the same time raising questions about the boundary between work and private life, and about the productivity of remote work versus the value of physical meetings between people.

Digital work tools in elderly care

Digitally mediated meetings between individuals can bring people closer to each other but also create distance, depending on how the technology is used. In elderly care, digital work tools can be useful for caregiving staff, among other things, tablets can be used to facilitate communication with the elderly and relatives, and robotic animals can be used as company and a topic of conversation. But the same technologies can also create problems if they are used as a substitute for interpersonal encounters. Interacting with a robotic pet can be both fun and calming, but if it comes at the expense of human interaction, questions arise about the content of the care provided.

Digital tools loaded with values

Digital technologies must also be understood in the organizational context in which they are used. Technical artifacts are never neutral tools but are always designed with ideas and symbolically loaded with values based on norms and preconceived notions about the intended users. This means that digital tools must be adapted to an organizational culture and the professional individuals' perception of professional ideals and values in order to be made meaningful.

AI in working life brings new questions to life

People shape and are shaped by technology. For instance, the use of self-learning machines, so-called Artificial Intelligence, in working life brings new questions to life regarding automated processes and decision-making matters, division of responsibilities between man and machine, as well as competence provision in organizations. The use of AI in working life can simplify and streamline many different processes that previously required manual labour. This means that certain competence, for example regarding administrative work, are no longer needed, while new competences are needed instead. This way, the use of AI can create new ways of working, new competence needs, and new professional roles in organizations.


Editor for the journal Sociologisk Forskning





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