Shift change

The working world is changing massively. Robots will soon be able to carry a large share of professions. Read, how to be prepared.

P ackages are delivered by drones, cars can drive themselves and chatting with the secretary about the weather has become a thing of the past. Robots are taking over our jobs. According to a study conducted by Oxford professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, almost every second job in the U.S. is on the brink of extinction. Based on this study, economists at one of the largest banks in Europe are predicting that an unbelievable 18 million jobs in Germany could be replaced by computers and software. Not only will robots soon be driving taxis more safely and at lower cost, they will be manning entire container ships as well. Paralegals, call center employees and secretaries are also high up on the "red list".

Estimated portion of jobs at risk of becoming redundant in the U.S.A.


of the workforce in the U.S.A.
could be replaced by robots

53 % of the jobs will most
likely not be threatened
by robots

47 % of the jobs
in the U.S.A.could soon
be done by robots

People who know how to program, lead teams or have a degree, on the other hand, have very good prospects. But digitization is going to create new jobs as well. Who would have thought 10 years ago that people would have full-time jobs based around Facebook or Google?

18 million jobs in Germany could become redundant

Does that mean robots are going to take away our jobs? Well, yes and no. Even if a lot of what we can achieve with technolo gy is still far in the future, robots will soon be able to take over simple and repetitive tasks. There's little reason to worry about jobs that require human interaction, communication and creativity.

What will change?

But these developments will change how we work. Having a permanent workplace has already become less important in a number of jobs. Mobile working, greater flexibility and more independent responsibility will make our lives more exciting and varied. Meetings can be held via virtual conferencing. Thanks to the cloud we can work on texts, presentations and tables with colleagues all over the world at the same time. It doesn't matter where you are or what time it is, all you need is Internet access. We can also use all of this to improve our work-life balance.

The only risk is that when the boundaries between our professional and private lives become blurry, we feel like we are working all the time. We get e-mails at midnight and when teams with members in San Francisco, Bonn and Tokyo collaborate, conference calls are not al ways held during "normal working hours". To protect employees from digital burn out, Deutsche Telekom decided years ago that employees would not be obligated to check their e-mail outside their working hours. Deutsche Telekom also supports work-life balance with extensive offerings such as childcare services, support for caregivers, flexible working models and lifetime work accounts.

People who like to work independently can look forward to more free dom and better quality of life.

But we all need to do our part. While people used to have to clock in, the focus in the future will be on results. That means that we need to learn how to organize our time independently. People who waste time are going to have to work longer. People who like to work independently and focus on results can look forward to more freedom and better quality of life.

The megatrends identified in the "Arbeit 4.0" (Work 4.0) study conducted by Deutsche Telekom in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen show how digitization is revolutionizing the way we work.

  • Work 4.0

    25 Theses

    The „Work 4.0“ study has questioned experts
    worldwide about megatrends in digital work.

    To the study

    The modern work environment is characterized by networks. Standardized back-end processes are shared between companies without this being visible to the customers or employees. This creates jobs without a clear organizational allocation and products without a clear origin.


    Highly specialized professionals communicate worldwide in special interest communities. Loyalty is no longer based on organizational affiliation, but is only driven by professional expertise. Once these ties have been cut, this kind of organization becomes impossible. Trade unions are already becoming aware of this: dedication to common interests is a selective process today.


    To provide specific services, companies rely less on a workforce permanently attached to the company. The global transparency of skills and the availability of highly qualified staff results in „hiring on demand“. The employment relationship becomes a work assignment.


    Organizations are increasingly structured on the basis of organigrams. Complex IT systems specify standardized processes and organizational forms. It is cheaper to adapt the organization to the software than to individualize the software. Software standardization makes organizational forms more homogeneous.


    Accelerated demand for transparency and the necessity of co-creation with customers (open innovation) leads to the opening up of previously closed corporate structures. Transitions between inside and outside become fluid, proprietary knowledge, such as patents, lose their value. The ability to scale rapidly and transparently becomes the best way forward. Thus the crowd becomes a part of the value-added chain.


    Companies increasingly rely on customers instead of employees. Many (digitalizable) services are provided without charge by enthusiastic volunteers. Prosumerism blurs the boundaries between producers and consumers. Voluntary digital work replaces professional employment.


    The role of humans in the production process is changing; they are becoming machine supervisors rather than active providers of labor. Routine processes and physically strenuous activities are now automatically carried out by machines. Humans only monitor and intervene in emergencies.


    New forms of interaction between man and machine are coming to the fore. Many variants will co-exist in the future. From people who control machines to machines as colleagues to a merger between man and machine or even a complete take-over by machines.


    Digital services are divided into ever smaller parts and delegated to „virtual laborers“. Big data analyses allow value contributions to be accurately allocated to the various workers. Cloud/click workers provide their services as piecework. Many of these activities are expected to become fully digitalized in the near future.

  • 10 of 25: THE DATA READERS

    Big data has resulted in sufficient data being available for all areas of life. The ability to combine and interpret these in a meaningful way is one of the key capabilities of digital work and cannot be supplanted. However, working with big data differs from traditional data analysis in that hypotheses are no longer required („end of theory“).


    Highly qualified specialists work on projects, providing services around the world. Qualifications are globally transparent and comparable. The geographical location of the service provider no longer plays a role. For the first time, work is now as mobile as capital.


    Traditional workplaces and working hours are becoming a thing of the past. For workers, this results in the potential to individually organize their work, for example to better combine work and family, but also creates new stress factors („always on“).


    The automation of work is finite as there are certain creative activities that, as far as is foreseeable at present, cannot be undertaken by machines. These are mainly specific niche activities. Entrepreneurial skills, creativity and the control of machines are regarded as skills that are difficult to replace.


    In high wage countries, activities involving direct human interactions are more highly valued. The proportion of these jobs is growing. Standardizable and anonymous processes, on the other hand, especially in the ICT field, become subject to offshoring and further efficiency pressure.


    The flexible and demand-oriented allocation of orders to labor brokers results in the dissolution of traditional employment relationships and processes. Work time is made up of micro-slices of work times spent on various tasks, which the employee combines according to necessity and ability.


    It is becoming increasingly common for the providers of creative or intellectual services to be expected to implement them in concrete form. 3D printers and other tools favor this trend.

  • 17 of 25: WE CHILD PRODIGIES

    The ever-increasing importance of IT allows the „nerds” to find their way into the upper echelons of the corporate world. The musical child prodigies of former times have become the precocious app developers and data experts of today. This generation will make a substantial contribution towards disruptive change within corporate cultures. It is not formal qualifications but only technical skills that will determine employability in future.


    Remote working, the anonymity of crowd- and click-working employment conditions and the flexibilization of working hours will also bring social groups not available for traditional employment relationships onto the labor market. As has been observed in Berlin, for example, this applies to both start-ups and to click-workers in emerging economies.


    The workplace of people in flexible employment relationships is extending into the public space. Physical offices are temporary anchor points for human interaction, which are mainly used for networking. Work takes place everywhere - except at a worker's own desk.

  • 20 of 25: BREAD AND CIRCUSES

    It is when carrying out standardized activities that workers yearn for distractions and rewards. Gamification and the intuitive operation of IT interfaces are becoming increasingly important, turning the work environment into a virtual playing field. Employers are required to integrate gaming design principles into standardized IT applications.


    The ties between the employer and employee are loosening. Flexible forms of work and cooperation lead to employees always having one foot in the labor market. This makes systematic staff development more difficult. At the same time, expectations and demands with regard to directly usable qualifications are increasing.


    The demise of geographically located workplaces is associated with a change from a presence to a results culture. Managers must learn that they will need to motivate rather than control workers. The skill is to establish personal ties even through impersonal technical channels and to maintain them.

  • 23 of 25: EXPLORE VS. EXPLOIT

    The increasing pace of innovation requires the constant replacement of innovative business areas and the transformation of the existing business models (explore). At the same time, the core business that is still profitable must be pursued as efficiently as possible (exploit). Management thus becomes „two- handed” and operates both in the present and in the future.


    Digital workers are quantified in the form of individual data packages – their skills, experience and capacities. This facilitates the allocation of matching tasks. However, disruptive factors in the data profile can also prevent such matching. Staff selection becomes less intuitive, but also less dependent on cultural matches.

  • 25 of 25: GOOD DATA, BAD DATA

    Sensors characterize the digital „workplace”. Environmental characteristics, processes, work results and the workers are all recorded on an ongoing basis to provide both the employer and the employee with information about the quality of work and potential improvements. Practical benefits must be weighed up against ethical considerations.

The challenge

Christian P. Illek has named leading Deutsche Telekom's 230,000 employees into the digital age one of the company's key challenges, because, as the Chief Human Resources Officer warns, "too many digital outsiders will be a drain on the economy and society." Here Deutsche Telekom is faced with a special task: Deutsche Telekom is a driving force behind digitization on the one hand while needing to get itself ready for the digital transformation on the other.

Many people are going to need new, completely different qualifications than what we are familiar with if they want to keep up in a digitized professional world. To make sure they acquire these skills, digitization needs to run like a red thread throughout the entire education system and lifelong learning needs to become part of our everyday work routine. Deutsche Telekom is getting its employees ready for this shift with a variety of continuing education offers, agile work practices, customized tools, modern workspaces, social networks and a leadership culture that continues to grow and develop.

Christian P. Illek

Too many digital outsiders will be a drain on the economy and society


Questions for...

Reza Moussavian

6 questions for Reza Moussavian

  • Mr. Moussavian, you lead the team behind ‘Digital & Innovation’ at Deutsche Telekom. What role does your department play within the company?

    We are essentially the incubator for new staff and projects at Telekom. It’s our job to question the status quo for things like employee working conditions, policies and internal procedures. We ultimately want to come up with new digitally friendly solutions to improve in this digital age. This is why we see ourselves as a bit of the HR or cultural incubator at Telekom.

  • Together with Bild am Sonntag, Barmer GEK and the University of St. Gallen, there was a study conducted regarding the connection between digitization and health. Does the digitalisation of the working world affect our health?

    Many interesting things came out of the study, particularly the fact that digitization can be seen as an opportunity. Of course there were challenges, for example it wasn’t really confirmed how people were feeling before, if they were afraid, feeling overwhelmed, stressed etc. but the evidence was evident that this was a cause of digitization. Staying healthy now is very different to the previous analogue world, we want people to stay consistently healthy and happy, not falling and rising constantly. This is what we saw to be a great opportunity.

  • The study has shown, among other things, that digitization does not significantly decrease our health, but moreso the quality of our private lives. Furthermore it was usually managers and leaders responsible for this, but how could they have such an impact?

    Regarding that first point, digitization doesn’t make us sick, the study found, so this means that the switch to analogue working environments happens relatively well and is safe. The switch works particularly well in a professional environment between companies, social partners, employees I have found. If you look deeper, you can see the way that illnesses arise is changing. Back pain can be reduced, however psychological factors are increasing, which has to be taken very seriously and looked at very closely. Privacy is another area to take into account as it’s a huge topic. The study actually showed however, that many people can handle this increased freedom very well, it’s just more about self-responsibility, and an increased amount of self-awareness to monitor successfully the balance between private and working lives. We have the opportunity now to work from anywhere - home, from the office, on the road, at any time really, and for this some people need protection from themselves so to speak, and it’s our job as a company to not to overload our employees. There is still a long way to go, so with that third point, regarding the manager's, yes. The study has shown where digitization changes the world of work, the key point is whether employees perceive digitization as an opportunity or rather a risk. This makes leadership more and more important and paramount that we step away from this older style of command and control, and more as a guide for direction and coaching. It’s always changing, and this naturally affects the development of management as a whole.

  • For its internal social network, Telekom offers the ‘yam’ a personal assistant and ‘Digital Guide’ for effective and efficient cooperation in the digital age. How did you come up with that?

    The Digital Guide is a relatively simple interface that we integrated into You & Me. I think it offers around 34 uses such as virtual meetings, or if I have international colleagues that I need to discuss project results with, or maybe I would like to place documents somewhere centrally so several people can access them. We really have the most important, coexisting applications for digital cooperation, and this guide shows intuitively, which tool, which method, which training is necessary for each particular case. This means we haven’t tried to introduce new tools into the company, but moreso take advantage of the existing tools we have, like how do I use YAM, what about Sharepoint, what about Jabba, how can I use Webex or telepresence etc.? If I want to have more information about a program, or to locate further details, which of these trainings would be best? Would Jang or Jabber be better?

  • Which goal do you aim to achieve with the Digital Guide?

    In other words, the task was to actually rid the feeling of ‘overload’, as employees didn’t even know themselves which tool could be used for what they were working on. When we called it ‘Digital Guide’ we really mean this as a guide, so employees can easily select the right tool and learn it relatively quickly. So, the idea of what this has to do with health is that we’re aiming to be preventive in a transparent way. Making this kind of information about our tools so easily accessible prevents the opportunity of feeling stressed, especially if you are new or using a tool for the first time. Also the development of the guide was done according to our methods with the ‘design thinking’ approach. It involved quite a lot of the employees in the development process as well us us having to work on prototypes, feedback, etc. So far the feedback as far as I’m concerned with YAM is very, very positive.

  • Where does your personal motivation come from?

    I’m very enthusiastic about the things we do, that’s what drives me every day. I’m very happy and very proud to have such a great team who constantly keep me motivated and really think about the things we do thoroughly. This is what sets Deutsche Telekom apart in the field of strategy. We want to know what needs to change culturally, which technologies should we be using and what method is best. I’m fascinated with this end-to-end thinking and responsibility we have in our department. And finally I must say, we didn’t do this as a formal process, nor make a board decision, we didn’t say ‘ok now you are responsible for this and it must be done’, but we’ve more or less built the reputation and for this and the development for it growing from the centre of the company. Now we want to really make this change happen from within.

Help is at hand

Digital change affects all ages and professional groups. The University of St. Gallen recently conducted a study on behalf of Barmer GEK, the Bild am Sonntag, and Telekom ranging in ten topics for the discussion of digitization and health. Sitting currently as the head of the ‘Digital and Innovation’ department at Telekom, Reza Moussavian discusses the exciting findings of the survey.

Featured is Telekom’s ‘Digital Guide’, a personal assistant named ‘yam’ that offers a more effective and efficient way for employees to cooperate and communicate. Learn more about the story in our interview

However, digital skills are not just a key qualification in the working world but have become a prerequisite for participating in society. That is why Deutsche Telekom actively encourages competent use of digital media beyond company borders through its „Teach-today“ initiative.