Is it time for a profound reconfiguration of working conditions? The pandemic and the successive measures taken to address it highlight the role of social, spatial, and temporal boundaries in the organization of the economy and lead to questions about the functioning of democratic systems. They shed light on the extent of inequalities but also the vital importance of certain often undervalued or even scorned professions. The picture is bleak, but experiences of work transformation help focus our attention on what matters: a genuine liberation of work, which requires a collective framework and the opportunity for regular deliberation, and even intervention, in governance. Clear-eyed in diagnosing reality, ambitious in asserting the desirable: this is the approach of this collective work, which proceeds from the belief that scientific rigor can be harnessed to transform reality. This book brings together twenty contributions representing diverse disciplinary, theoretical and methodological perspectives.
In collaboration with Professor Jean-Claude Coallier (University of Sherbrooke), we contributed a chapter to this book that provides a literature review shedding light on the conditions necessary for the adoption and appropriation of new technologies to drive changes in professional practices and organizational culture. Companies see these technological advancements as an opportunity to instill a new organizational culture and new work practices. However, several authors share the observation that the introduction of digital tools alone cannot bring about organizational and cultural transformation, and this belief leads to the failure of many work digitization projects.
Presented as the new work revolution, digitization also causes many disappointments rooted in various explanatory factors such as:
One of the prerequisites for the success of work digitization is that technology allows workers to focus on tasks with higher added value (gesture expertise, diagnosis, innovation/creativity, skills development, job renewal, etc.) while relieving them of physically and cognitively demanding and unrewarding tasks. This implies that technology must “make sense” to employees (notably by being useful for efficient and effective work) and also “restore meaning” to the activity by maintaining employees’ agency, developing their skills, recognizing their expertise, promoting initiative and autonomy and revitalizing the profession.
Our literature review supports the idea that the digital transformation of work represents a change in work modes and organizational culture that unquestionably needs to be accompanied by HR professionals to ensure its success. This poses a real challenge for human resources professionals who must think ahead about how to manage the “human-machine” relationship.
Access to the book online: (Dé) libérer le travail. Paris : Téséo presse.
Access to the chapter: Chevallier, E. et Coallier, J.-C. (2020). “De la transformation digitale de l’outil de travail à la transformation des pratiques de travail”. In C. E. Gamassouet et Mias. A (dir). (Dé) libérer le travail. Paris : Téséo presse.