Work environment of the future – trends, digitalization and employment forms

The overarching purpose of this literature review is to provide a summary and overview of knowledge derived from research literature on work environment trends, particularly digitalization and new employment forms, with an emphasis on consequences for the work environment.

Summary

The overarching purpose of this literature review is to provide a summary and overview of knowledge derived from research literature on work environment trends, particularly digitalization and new employment forms, with an emphasis on consequences for the work environment. While Swedish work environments comprised the point of departure, research conducted in other European countries was also included, as much of the research that is relevant for European conditions may also be relevant for Swedish conditions.
To clarify the structure of this literature review, the three areas have been divided into three separate parts: the first covers work environment trends; the second covers digitalization; and the third covers employment forms and health. The report concludes with final comments from the authors.

Work environment trends

The purpose of this report is to compile knowledge about changes and trends with regard to work environments in Sweden, and knowledge about how these work environment trends are related to changes and trends in the surrounding world (at the societal, organizational and individual levels) in cases where such relationships could be identified. The purpose is also to point out knowledge gaps in the research and future research needs.

The results show the scientific literature contains a limited number of studies on the work environment of the future and work environment trends, and they vary with regard to content, focus, method use and areas of application. Thus there is no established research tradition within the field and the quality of the studies varies. The included studies were different kinds of literature reviews, interview studies, survey studies, register studies and studies of publication traditions. Only a few studies are from Sweden and Scandinavia. The review therefore does not claim to be comprehensive.

Digitalization

The purpose of this literature review is to contribute a systematic and thematic overview of research on the consequences of digitalization for work environments as well as for preventive occupational health and safety management, and to identify future research needs in the field.

It can be seen that together, digital technology and the work environment comprise a complicated tapestry of risks and opportunities. It is even the case that a single form of digital technology can have both a positive and negative impact on the work environment. Digitalization has enabled new forms of communication and new communication pathways, which several articles show can contribute to increased participation in and influence on the design and development of the operation.

Employment forms and health

The main purpose of this review of reviews has been to summarize the scientific evidence in a number of systematic reviews of original studies on the health consequences of non-standard employment, with a focus on the dimension of temporary employment contracts. Another purpose has been to describe quantitative and qualitative trends for temporary employment contracts in Sweden and internationally, and to identify new emerging employment types.

The reviews show that the research area of employment types and health has numerous methodological problems, rendering it difficult to aggregate the findings of different studies and producing inconsistent results, i.e. the results do not agree with one another. The research is highly heterogeneous with regard to how employment types, outcome measurements, follow-up times and contexts are categorized, making it difficult to draw conclusions. With this in mind, it is still possible to establish the following about associations between employment types and health in a broad sense.

 

This literature review is written by

Work environment trends

Jörgen Eklund

Digitalization

Kristina Palm
Ann Bergman
Calle Rosenblad

Employment forms and health

Gunnar Aronsson