The digital age: opportunities and challenges for work and employment

30 June 2021

The capacity of humankind to store, transmit and manipulate information has expanded hugely in recent years as a result of innovations in computing and telecommunication technologies. Such information and communication technologies (ICTs) are having significant effects in almost all areas of the economy, leading to a general acceleration in the pace of technical change. At the same time, work, its content, its organisation and design, its regulation and protection, are all undergoing great change in this digital age. These changes also often bring a blurring of boundaries between different dimensions of work and between work, employment and non-work activity.

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Policymakers need to gain knowledge that will help to address questions about effective regulation, how to ensure social protection in its broadest sense and balancing the demands of companies, societies and individuals in exploiting the great potential of digitalisation.

The European Commission adopted its Digital Single Market strategy for Europe in 2015, highlighting it as one of its political priorities. The strategy can create digital opportunities for citizens and businesses and aims to strengthen the EU’s position as a world leader in the digital economy. It aims to increase access to information, lead to jobs for those with the right digital skills and transform public services.  As the collaborative economy is expanding across the EU, the Commission is looking to encourage the development of new and innovative services, while ensuring adequate protection measures. The Commission’s 2016 Communication on the European agenda for the collaborative economy clarifies the rules and policy recommendations in this area for citizens, businesses and Member States. 

Eurofound's work

Eurofound is looking at the broader implications for working conditions, labour regulation and beyond of the increasing scale and scope of digital technologies for the labour market.

The employment impact of game-changing technologies in services is being explored. Eurofound also examines the implications of the platform economy, notably platform work, for the labour market. Furthermore, research on the working and employment conditions of ICT-based mobile workers is being continued.

The nature of work and employment in the digital age will be investigated, with a focus on:

Key contributions

A joint report with the International Labour Organization (ILO) on working anytime and anywhere has considered the impact of telework and ICT-mobile work on selected elements of working conditions.

Eurofound’s Foundation Seminar Series (FSS) is an opportunity for governments, trade unions and employers to discuss the development of EU social, employment and work-related policies. In 2016, the FSS focused on the impact of digitalisation on work and building up national agendas for better implementation of digital changes.

Featured: Webinar on flexible working in the digital age

13 June 2019 - Eurofound hosted a webinar on flexible working in the digital age to discuss latest research findings on the increasing number of ICT-based mobile workers, as well as share experiences and innovative approaches to address issues arising from this employment form. Visit the webinar page for more information on the take-aways from the debate and to watch the webinar recording.
Watch webinar: Flexible working in the digital age - Is everyone a winner?


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