Shaping the future of work

New developments in technology – artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things (IoT), robotics and virtual assistants – are challenging the current world of work. Workers may see their job “taken away” by automation- focused technology. But technological advances also offer huge potentials to do work differently and do different work. Changing technological setups at the workplace require organizations and workers to often and quickly embrace new tools, new forms of interaction and new forms of work. These changes will also likely have a fundamental impact on our society and social fabric.

Our Mission

This platform studies the emergence of new forms of work and interactions between humans and technologies at the workplace, as well as their implications for society. Through its studies, the platform aims to better understand the characteristics outlining these new trends and how they can unlock new action potentials for humans and open up opportunities for innovative use of technology and new work.

The platform combines state of the art knowledge on digital technologies (IoT, AI, robotics, etc.) with leading insights from the business world and social science. Through this combination, the platform offers unique intellectual perspective on the institutional, ethical, and macroeconomic framework required to shape the work of the future. Our unique inter-disciplinary collaboration ensures our research is both relevant and rigorous, as well as insightful and actionable for organizations and society.

Taken together, the platform’s efforts will help to discover and sustainably leverage digital technologies’ transformative potential in the workplace and provide actionable advice on the technology- and skill-based complementarities to harness the true power of ‘digitally-empowered work’. In addition, through the study of the societal ramifications of these new trends, such as the implications on social security and social insurance, the platform will provide guidance for policy makers to ensure our society thrive in this new world.

Our Vision

Offer both fast and slow thinking on the technological and societal challenges ahead for workers, workplaces and organizations.

On the one hand, thanks to the combined scholarly knowledge of its members, the platform provides “fast” answers to questions from society, companies and policy-makers. It will take part in the public debate, develops new teaching material, and interacts with key decision makers in a regular fashion. The platform aims to provide “in-residence” opportunities for decision makers to interact with scientists and explore new ideas, discuss key trends, and jointly develop new insights.

On the other hand, the platform establishes an agenda for “slow” thinking by producing cutting edge peer- reviewed research on the integration of new digital technologies at working places and moving ground level research into the key unresolved topics shaping the workplace of the future. The platform will act as a thought leader in this field.

Who we are

We are more than 20 scientists affiliated with three strong and complementary institutions in the Lausanne region. Scientists at EPFL provide core knowledge on the state of the art in technology, scientists at UNIL link the platform to society with specialists on social science, governance and law, and scientists at IMD ensures a close connection with the realities and demands of the world of business. The platform also has close links with other relevant international organizations, such as the International Labor Organization, and think tanks.

What we do

Members of the platform are working together on key issues that are central to shape the work of the future. Specifically, the platform addresses topics, such as:

  • The global perspective and influence of technology at the workplace and on the economy
  • The adoption processes of new technology at different levels (workers, workplaces and firms)
  • How to enable effective co-working conditions between humans and machines to facilitate work?
  • What are the new forms of risks, and how to insure them?
  • What are ethical and legal aspects of new forms of work?
  • How new technology affects recruitment and how job seekers find jobs?
  • What past technological development and their implications on the labor market can teach us
  • What are the skills gaps of the future and how to close it?

For instance, one of the research focus of the platform will be on the development of innovative technologies to promote highly-efficient co-working environments between humans and machines. We will target to exploit the latest edge computing concept in IoT for fast response times, and new human-machine interfaces to intuitively operate smart robotics and personalize virtual assistants to each working person.

Platform coordinators

David Atienza, EPFL, Internet of Things, David.Atienza@epfl.ch
Bettina Büchel, IMD, Strategy, Bettina.Buechel@imd.org
Benjamin Müller, UNIL, IT and Organizations, Benjamin.Mueller@unil.ch

Guido Palazzo
Rafael Lalive
Franciska Krings
Ulrich Hoffrage
Julian Marewski
Jörg Dietz
Christian Zehnder
Camille Terrier
Benjamin Mueller
Giuliano Bonoli
Daniel Oesch
Xavier Castaner
Isabelle Chappuis
Bettina Hummer
Joël Wagner
Cyril Bouquet
Bettina Buchel
Amit Joshi
Maude Lavanchy
Thomas Weber
Marcel Salathé
David Atienza Alonso
Dominique Foray