New Normal - empirical survey and real-world laboratories

A central topic that is not only being discussed in academia, but also in practice, is the digital transformation. Digital transformation is associated with considerable processes of change at the level of institutions, organisations and individuals, which bring with them both challenges and opportunities. For employees, this means, among other things, unfamiliar, mobile and digital forms of work that place new demands on them. The transparency and speed of work and work processes are increasing on the one hand, while on the other hand personal contacts and forms of interaction are being restricted. Likewise, managers are facing new challenges in the context of new forms of cooperation. The emerging changes in the world of work have been accelerated not least by the measures necessary in the last two years to deal with the COVID19 pandemic. These issues are relevant, among other things, because they directly affect employees' satisfaction, motivation and willingness to change. At the same time, they address overarching questions regarding the attractiveness of modern organisations as employers, the qualification of employees and the shortage of skilled workers. The research project "New Normal", which is being conducted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE), has set itself the goal of systematically analysing digitisation processes scientifically in order to be able to derive central conditions and success factors.


Aims and questions of the project

The research project focuses on questions of cooperation and communication between employees, the effects on leadership, the perspective of employee groups on the new forms of work, as well as on the organisational culture of cooperation. The aim of the project is to gain theoretical insights into social mechanisms and causal relationships of digitalisation that can be generalised beyond individual cases by analysing the digitalisation and work models within a modern administration in the sense of basic research. Specifically, three overarching questions were formulated for this purpose:

  1. How have cooperation and communication between employees changed as a result of digitalization and the use of mobile working methods?
  2. What influence do these changes have on questions of leadership?
  3. How do new forms of digital work change the subjective views of different groups of employees on the one hand and the organizational culture of cooperation on the other?

Research methods

The subject of investigation are employment-related consequences of the digitization of work, which are assessed using the example of the MWIKE. Empirically, the project will begin with an inventory of the previous digitization processes and the currently available work and organizational models. It addresses digital tools for collaboration in and between departments and the use of mobile forms of work. The focus is on employees and changes in work practices in the context of organizational structures and new, digital work and organizational models. For the empirical investigation, different methods of social research are to be combined. These include (1) qualitative interviews with experts and employees, (2) a quantitative employee survey, and (3) operational practice laboratories over the entire project period to test new mobile and digital collaboration offers.

Project manager:

Prof. Dr. Markus Hertwig

Project team:

Dr. Jule Elena Westerheide

Anna Korn

Martin Lenzner