Special Issue "Digitalization of Knowledge Work and Its Influence on Occupational Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Occupational Safety and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Kathrin Kirchner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Department of Technology, Management and Economics
Interests: knowledge work; enterprise social media; psychosocial working environment
Dr. Christine Ipsen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Department of Technology, Management and Economics
Interests: knowledge work, organizational interventions, distance management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The aim of this Special Issue is a better understanding of how digitalization influences occupational health and how to ensure sustainable management of digitalisation with an integrated focus on both organizational performance and employee wellbeing.

Digitalization of knowledge work using digital technologies, such as robotics, internet of things or artificial intelligence changes business models, provides new revenue and value-producing opportunities and new managerial and work processes (Vuori, Helander & Okkonen, 2019).

Such a digitalized working environment can have a positive and negative influence on the occupational health of employees (Poulsen & Ipsen, 2017). From a positive point of view, knowledge workers become, for example, independent of a concrete workplace, can access more people, become more innovative with the help of the crowd (Kirchner & Razmerita, 2019), can avoid working in dangerous working environments, or can improve health by applying digital tools (like Apps).

From a negative point of view, digitalization of work can create a physical distance with less contact to colleagues, lead to 24/7 accessability, might cause an information overload,  increase the monitoring of work related activities and affect work-life balance .

Digitalization of knowledge work therefore opens the door to an increase in occupational health challenges—in particular of a psychosocial and organizational nature —that need to be better understood and managed (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2018).

A number of questions for this Special Issue can be identified but are not exclusive:

  1. What is the positive and negative influence of a digitalized work environment on the occupational health?
  2. How is the influence of a digitalized working environment perceived by different groups of employees and how can these differences be addressed by occupational health experts and managers?
  3. What are the managerial actions and interventions that workplaces can take to improve or secure employees’ wellbeing (e.g., training, involvement into digitalization strategies)?
  4. How we can ensure a combined focus on both business and sustainable management by integrating performance and well-being?

References

Kirchner, K., & Razmerita, L. (2019). Managing the Digital Knowledge Work with the Social Media Business Value Compass. In 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (pp. 6438-6447).

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2018). Foresight on new and emerging occupational safety and health risks associated with digitalisation by 2025. https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/foresight-new-and-emerging-occupational-safety-and-health-risks/view

Poulsen, S., & Ipsen, C. (2017). In times of change: How distance managers can ensure employees’ wellbeing and organizational performance. Safety science, 100, 37-45.

Vuori, V., Helander, N., & Okkonen, J. (2019). Digitalization in knowledge work: the dream of enhanced performance. Cognition, Technology & Work, 21(2), 237-252.

Assoc. Prof. Kathrin Kirchner
Assoc. Prof. Christine Ipsen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Digitalization
  • Knowledge work
  • Distance work
  • Psychosocial working environment
  • Occupational health
  • Management of knowledge work
  • Workplace/ Occupational health management

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Six Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home in Europe during COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1826; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041826 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5472
Abstract
The number of people working from home (WFH) increased radically during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate people’s experiences of WFH during the pandemic and to identify the main factors of advantages and disadvantages of WFH. [...] Read more.
The number of people working from home (WFH) increased radically during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate people’s experiences of WFH during the pandemic and to identify the main factors of advantages and disadvantages of WFH. Data from 29 European countries on the experiences of knowledge workers (N = 5748) WFH during the early stages of lockdown (11 March to 8 May 2020) were collected. A factor analysis showed the overall distribution of people’s experiences and how the advantages and disadvantages of WFH during the early weeks of the pandemic can be grouped into six key factors. The results indicated that most people had a more positive rather than negative experience of WFH during lockdown. Three factors represent the main advantages of WFH: (i) work–life balance, (ii) improved work efficiency and (iii) greater work control. The main disadvantages were (iv) home office constraints, (v) work uncertainties and (vi) inadequate tools. Comparing gender, number of children at home, age and managers versus employees in relation to these factors provided insights into the differential impact of WFH on people’s lives. The factors help organisations understand where action is most needed to safeguard both performance and well-being. As the data were collected amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend further studies to validate the six factors and investigate their importance for well-being and performance in knowledge work. Full article
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Psychological Impacts of the New Ways of Working (NWW): A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5080; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145080 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2338
Abstract
Digitalization of knowledge work is essential for today’s organizations, responding to diversified employee needs. Many organizations are already implementing some form of flexibility to help workers perform work and non-work duties, while maintaining high productivity. While these changes in workplaces, “New Ways of [...] Read more.
Digitalization of knowledge work is essential for today’s organizations, responding to diversified employee needs. Many organizations are already implementing some form of flexibility to help workers perform work and non-work duties, while maintaining high productivity. While these changes in workplaces, “New Ways of Working (NWW)”, have been discussed in the literature, a systematic appraisal of evidence of NWW has not been conducted. Relating to poor work-related mental health worldwide, this systematic review analyzed the psychological impacts of NWW, and the quality and quantity of NWW research. Following the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, NWW studies targeting psychological outcomes were evaluated. Initial literature search on ProQuest, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and Google Scholar retrieved 308 titles, from which seven articles fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Our appraisal revealed that NWW research evaluated diverse psychological outcomes. While NWW can help workers’ engagement, work-related flow, and connectivity among staff, NWW can also increase blurred work-home boundary, fatigue, and mental demands. The quality of NWW research was overall medium, needing more rigorous studies. Our findings can inform decision-makers in the workplace to effectively implement NWW, and researchers to improve the quality and the usefulness of future NWW studies. Full article
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