NEGOTIATING THE DIGITIZATION OF WORK: NEW CHALLENGES FOR EMPLOYEES AND WORKERS’ COUNCILS FROM THE USE OF SOCIAL COLLABORATION PLATFORMS

Tanja Carstensen

Abstract


The “digitization of work” has become a vibrant topic in recent years. The use of social media platforms within companies for internal communication and collaboration, “Social Collaboration” or “Enterprise 2.0”, is an increasingly important part of the digitization of work. Companies implement such social networks to improve project organization and knowledge management, to avoid duplication of effort by increased transparency, to improve access to existing competencies within the company, and to support the development of new ideas and innovations.

While employers’ expectations regarding social media platforms have been broadly discussed, their effects on the working conditions of employees have, as of yet, been neglected in research. This paper investigates the negotiations on use and design between employers, employees, and workers’ councils – or in other words, rule-making and rule-breaking—and follows the questions:
- which issues are contested by implementing and using a social media platform,
- which (new) demands are employees confronted with by the use of social media,
- how do employers, employees and workers’ councils deal with these challenges,
- how far do employees adopt, modify or resist the company’s social media rules?

To do this, the paper starts with short theoretical remarks on the relation of technology and work, as well as sociological considerations on the transformation of work and its challenges for individuals. The empirical results of this paper are grounded on three case studies in companies, including 47 interviews with a range of employees (working in HR, office administration, IT, communication, engineering, call centers, workers’ councils, etc.).

Keywords


social media platforms, demands, work, enterprise 2.0, social collaboration

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