We can shape the handling of digitisation in a healthy way!

Living healthy in the digital working world – Prof. Dr. Filip Mess draws attention to the health demands caused by digitalisation and has valuable tips on employee health at hand.

Why does the health aspect play such a large role in companies?

Our working world is currently changing rapidly. Without a healthy workforce, it is difficult for companies to meet current and future challenges. One example is the digitized world of work. The aim of companies must therefore be to maintain, promote and, if necessary, restore the health of their employees. Otherwise, there is the danger of oversleeping the changes and no longer being able to survive on the market.

What are the health risks in the digitalised world of work?

Three trends characterise digitisation: information, interaction and artificial intelligence. These trends result in changes and health risks. One example is the constant accessibility through media. Work and private life become blurred. The consequences range from exhaustion to burn-outs. Another example is the constantly new technologies that we have to deal with at work. This requires lifelong learning. Those who can’t keep up will be left behind. The flood of information is increasing, so that we have less and less time for projects and activities. Stress increases, dissatisfaction rises. Dissatisfaction also rises due to ever decreasing self-determination. Machines and stakeholders are increasingly “driving” us. On the other hand, stakeholder expectations are also growing. These factors lead to dissatisfaction and stress, which ultimately nibbles at our psyche.

How can a company promote the health of its employees under these conditions?

Companies should first find out where health potentials and risks lie by means of a classic health survey. It is also important to find out which measures employees would like to take, because health should be positive in general. Health can, for example, be positive through the combination with playful elements, keyword gamification. The responsibility lies with the managers. Companies must sensitize their managers to their role as health-conscious managers and prepare prospective managers for this role.

And what can individual employees do to stay healthy and fit in a digitized world?

We can’t stop digitization. But we can make the handling of digitisation healthy. Employees should also be offline at times, i.e. consciously plan recovery times. Employees should take digitalization as an opportunity, but at the same time also take a critical look at it and not follow every new development blindly and without reflection. To do this, they must try out the new forms of working and leading and integrate them into their daily work.

Let’s take a look into the future: Which topics will occupy the world of work in ten years’ time as digitalisation progresses?

In ten years lifelong learning will have brought about a cultural change. It will no longer be just a question of whether we embed lifelong learning in schools and universities, but how. We need to build trust in artificial intelligence and in big data – we can learn together with machines and make decisions in the course of artificial intelligence. Big data gives us large amounts of data, and we have to trust them and the results they produce. In general, we will ask ourselves the question what still holds our society together and how it is always reconstituted when changes occur in the areas of technology and digitisation.

Photo: .shock



As scientific director of the Institut für Betriebliche Gesundheitsberatung (IFBG), Prof. Dr. Filip Mess is involved in digital health promotion, among other things. In the study #whatsnext – Gesund arbeiten in einer digitalen Arbeitswelt (working healthy in a digital world) in February and March 2017, more than 800 personnel, managers and persons responsible for health took part. The core result of the study was that managers are the most important adjusting screw for healthy work 4.0..

"Digitze or Die - How to attract young professionals to rural areas?

What are the advantages of digitisation? What impact does digitisation have on the labour market? In concrete terms: How can digitisation stop the increasing shortage of skilled workers in the South Westphalia region? International and national politicians as well as regional economic experts discussed these questions at the Iserlohn Economic Conference “Campus Symposium” at the beginning of September. Among those present were the former President of the EU Commission José Manuel Barroso and Minister of State Dorothee Bär.

Digitalisation can no longer be stopped. But compared to other countries, Germany is lagging behind in terms of digital progress. If Germany took advantage of the opportunities offered by digitisation, it would have many advantages: Above all, the increasing shortage of skilled workers in the regions could be stopped. The Internet makes it possible to exchange information with stakeholders from any location and to work from anywhere.

The German regions are still strong, especially characterized by a high level of small and medium-sized enterprises. The South Westphalia region alone is home to over 150 world market leaders and is one of the three strongest industrial regions in Germany. And “just because we are now a strong industrial nation doesn’t mean that we can’t even become a successful digital nation,” Bär is convinced. But there is still a long way to go.

Digitization makes it possible to work from any location

“I have the impression that we have got stuck in the Prussian authoritarian state,” says NRW Digital Minister Pinkwart, deploring the digital development in Germany, “NRW has a thorn in its flesh when it comes to digital start-ups. But that is about to change, the state of NRW wants to develop a digital strategy together with the citizens. In addition to infrastructure, education and health, the focus will be on small and medium-sized businesses. “We have something that other countries do not have. We have an outstanding middle class that no other country in the world can boast of. We have to strengthen them and make them fit,” Bär proudly announces. In order to make even better use of the opportunities offered by digitisation for the regions, we need to join forces and build networks. It is no longer necessary to move to the capital cities. Digitisation makes it possible to work from anywhere. “The future will not take place in Berlin or Hamburg”, says Bär, “but in Iserlohn”.

Networking is the be-all and end-all for young professionals in the digital world

In an interview with the Iserlohner Kreis-Anzeiger, Kim Höhne, founder of the first Coworking Space in Iserlohn, provides concrete ideas on how the shortage of skilled workers in South Westphalia can be remedied. First of all, the needs of the target group had to be addressed, the needs of the young digital professionals. In addition to soft location factors, companies can also contribute a lot: “It’s not just about working for a hot brand, but also about the corporate culture that prevails with these brands. What this means is an open work culture where flat hierarchies prevail, where responsibility can be assumed and where networks can be built. “Especially those who want to and can help decisively with the digitization appreciate the flexible working.

One approach to networking young people and creating flexible work opportunities is coworking. “It’s about building a community that attracts others who follow these approaches and are at home in the digital world. The Coworking Space in Iserlohn is a first step into a digital and networked South Westphalia.

Photo: Frank Höhne