WORK TRENDS: Work 4.0 How Germany is shaping the future of work


Great assessment on the future of work and how to maintain quality jobs in the digital age from the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Their underlying belief is that digitization doesn’t mean technological determinism. The future of work is something we can – and have to – actively shape.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • White-collar professionals will see their current job descriptions change radically in the years to come.
  • For young people, working life will mean project-based employment, remote work and increasingly blurry lines between work and leisure.
  • Life and work styles are increasingly pluralistic and a new balance is being sought between security and flexibility.
  • Work hours must be organized in a way that better take into account specific time needs over the life course (see below on how millennials are changing the workplace by working outside of the traditional 9-5)
  • More people would rather leave the office early to spend time with their children and catch up on emails later in the evening.
  • A proposed Working Time Choice Act would combine more options for workers in relation to working time and location.
  • Personal employment accounts are being considered. Each individual sets up an account at the start of their working life, equipped with basic “capital” and then earns credits through employment or individual contributions. These credits to be used for education, skill enhancement or career breaks.
  • Skills development and life-long learning become essential
  • Digitization is predicted to lead to a massive change in occupations and job profiles but NOT mass job losses (not sure I buy this, but certainly hope they are right in their assessment).


German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, headed by social democrat Andrea Nahles, published the white paper “Work 4.0”. It’s the result of an 18-month dialogue process mapping out the challenges for the world of labor and injecting policy proposals in the political debate. The dialogue involved a wide range of stakeholders such as academia, trade unions and employer organizations, and also the general public. By coining the term “Work 4.0”, the debate was deliberately linked to the already flourishing Industry 4.0 discussion, not as a counterpart but rather a supplement.

The London School of Economics has also covered the topic on their blog here.

Read on below for more on how millennials are rewriting career rules and changing the workforce – especially as it relates to hours worked (and when!).

Millennials work outside of the traditional 9-5

  • Millennials don’t like being told how to do their work or when to do it. Flexibility is their number one concern, rating it above even health care coverage.
  • 45% would take a substantial pay cut in exchange for greater flexibility at work, and an overwhelming majority (77%), said that flexible work schedules would promote higher productivity for them.
  • The vast majority check up on work emails after hours, further blurring the line between work and personal life.

Source: EliteDaily


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