"Increased complexity is primarily motivating."

Digitalization is fundamentally changing the nature of our working lives. Dr. Prisca Brosi, KLU Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, spoke about both the challenges and the opportunities in digitalization on the sidelines of the Digital X North conference in Hamburg. The interview appeared in WirtschaftsWoche on July 5 and is part of a special on the Digital X events in Hamburg, Offenbach and Berlin.

How does digitalization affect us?

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: On the one hand, new technologies and the use of them make many workplaces more complex, which increases the demands on employees, especially in information processing. On the other hand, there are tasks with very little complexity, where it is only a matter of monitoring systems and waiting for the five percent of the time when you really have to react. These are two examples of different but strong changes in technology, which are challenging.

How will the way we work change?

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: There is a cultural change that we are already beginning to feel: we will meet less face-to-face and collaborate more virtually, which can be a challenge. As studies show, this entails risks, but also many opportunities. Because many people can work more creatively in this virtual world.

Sounds good, but currently many people feel uneasy.

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: A crucial question is how executives can empower their employees to cope with all these changes. Ongoing change also causes stress. This is why companies need to develop models which employees can use to continually develop themselves.

In what way do we need a suitable framing?

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: It is easy to stir up feelings of fear with regards to changes in digitalization, in the sense of "everything will change". But if supervisors are clever enough to break it down, increased speed and complexity are primarily motivating. At least when employees look at the positive aspects of it, and know how to deal with things themselves, also with regards to health management.

What will become structurally different in companies?

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: The fact that I can make knowledge directly accessible in a digitized company already changes the hierarchy. In addition, employees increasingly need to be able to react directly, which requires flatter hierarchies. This necessitates active intervention in the corporate structure. 

How is the way we learn changing?

Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi: The manner in which we educate and train individuals has to change. We should really focus on those, who want to learn and enables them to acquire knowledge and to develop further. That means that I can't put myself at the front of the class and simply teach, but rather, I must support people in how they seek knowledge.  

Digital X, organized by Deutsche Telekom, aims to connect politics, business and associations on the subject of digitalization across industries in Germany.

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Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi