How does the economy affect family life?

Work 4.0 - Effects on Family Life

Opinion of the Expert Committee on Family Law / Policy of November 22, 2017



The current discussion about the digitization of the economy in Germany is also being conducted under the terms “Industry 4.0” and “Work 4.0”. A key topic in this discussion is the question of the specific spaces of opportunity that are associated with the digital world of work for women.
Digitization is fundamentally changing the world of work. In addition to new activities that arise, it is assumed that both qualified and highly qualified jobs will be lost. This has an impact on the career prospects of women and men.

Two basic models of effects are linked to digitization.
One model focuses on the dangers associated with the change. Here
the key words “tsunami on the labor market” and the associated loss of jobs or the permanent availability of employees, the deterioration in opportunities for women, increasing stress and burnout etc ..
The other model focuses on the advantages and leeway and thus combines a new humanization of the world of work. The conditions for gender-equitable design of work and activity are also asked here. The focus is on the empowerment of people as well as the opportunities for time sovereignty and the active design of work. Other keywords are democratization, new opportunities for participation and egalitarian design.

The following are the opportunities and challenges of Work 4.0 for women and
Families are illuminated.


Critical perspectives and the consequences of digitization [1]

Experts fear that many jobs will be lost in the next 20 years. The areas of industry and services are particularly hard hit. While studies such as that by Bowles (2014) assume that 51 percent of jobs in Germany could be rationalized, the Center for European Economic Research sees 12 percent of German jobs at risk, and the Institute for Employment Research predicts a net loss of by 2025 60,000 jobs, on the other hand the Boston Consulting Group sees a potential of 350,000 net additional jobs by 2025. [2]

The TOP 10 of the endangered occupations also affect jobs with a high proportion of women, such as B. Office and secretarial jobs, commercial and technical business administration and accounting, jobs in sales and catering services [3]. A paradigm shift is also taking place in the world of work, which could mean an opportunity for new professions with a higher proportion of women.

In the Product development the importance of software over hardware increases more and more, i. H. Products and services can be developed and simulated on the computer. Development work is no longer exclusively technical, but is also measured in the overall organization by customer benefit and economic usability. This work in virtual worlds offers new opportunities for flexible working time models, home office and the abandonment of attendance times.

It seems that digitization is like an engine for that Delimitation of
Work and family life
works. The work-life balance seems to be getting easier. Home office is possible. 50 percent of employees would like this, but only 11 percent take advantage of this offer. [4]
In the home office, direct face-to-face contact with colleagues is important. In factories and companies, the culture of presence still counts. Those who work from home are often excluded from further career steps. In general, the Occupational health and safety laws not to be neglected. It is not without reason that there are regulations for the design of a workplace, with an office chair, the correct table height and lighting, so that health does not suffer from the working conditions.

The danger that the Separation between professional and private life is blurred is very high. The demarcation and defense of family time against work demands is becoming more and more difficult. Activity rates for men and women continue to rise, but at the same time parents spend more time with their children. In return, they “save” on their regeneration, on partnerships, sports and volunteering. The result is increasing diseases of exhaustion, because most parents focus on the well-being of their children and push themselves to the limit. [5] [6]

It takes personal and structural strategies to narrow this down. In the digitized world of work, employees must retain their own decision-making space. Companies are also in demand here, which must support the employees' demarcation strategies even in the case of “fluid” structures. The concept of the 30-hour week and the working-life models for all represent perspectives worth discussing in this context.

The digitization of the world of work offers the opportunity Education, supervision and care to be able to agree better.

Due to the increasing isolation of employees and the possibility of being able to complete work orders from anywhere, wages can be pushed down more easily. Services such as B. cleaning, handicrafts and media are offered more and more on online platforms with strong price pressure due to competition. As long as the laws, such as the Works Constitution Act and the Staff Representation Acts, are not amended accordingly, employee participation will become more difficult. Permanent jobs and thus security for people could decrease as a result.

Business models in the service industry More and more of the data time, the amount of data and its utilization are being thought of in ever shorter cycles (examples can be found in the transport services and taxi companies, e.g. Uber, in the automotive market or in the hotel industry, e.g. . This changes the demands on employees. Networked thinking, coordination and communication skills and a new work culture are now required. At the same time, there is a risk that precarious employment relationships will expand.

A today's standard career usually builds on full-time, presence and a continuous employment biography. The digital world of work can create a lot of new freedom in the future, simplify the combination of job and family and open up new career opportunities. The decoupling of working time and place of work could thus be a way to more time sovereignty and workplace design. However, it also harbors the risk that expectations of permanent availability (in terms of time, location, motivational) will continue to rise and thus prevent family-friendly work organization.

In the course of digitization, the Role of managers questioned and redefined. What was previously characterized by professional authority and autonomous decisions with a fixed place in the hierarchy must fit into the bigger picture in the future. Managers now have to act transparently and are dependent on the “empowerment of teams and employees”. Leadership thus becomes a cooperative task in networked structures with skills for integration and moderation. For women, these network structures with changed requirement profiles and flat hierarchies could open up new access to management tasks and new work and career opportunities.

Young people naturally grow up with digitization. However, the usage behavior of the sexes is different. “The younger generation does not automatically close the digital divide between the sexes: girls are active users, but they stay relatively far removed from the technical side of digitization. That makes it difficult to actively help shape digitization. ”[7] In school, digitization qualifications (technical skills and abilities in IT basics as well as gender competence) must be expanded and deepened. This is the only way to prevent girls and young women from being left behind by digitization.



The Bavarian State Women's Council makes the following demands on society, politics and collective bargaining parties:

  1. The structural change is to be used to expand the position of women on the labor market, inter alia. through a better link between paid gainful employment and family work for both genders (e.g. further expanding the childcare offer free of charge, qualitatively and with flexible childcare times: Sufficient number of day-care centers, promoting the expansion of tied and non-tied all-day schools and expand it quantitatively).
  2. Models for a more flexible curriculum vitae and professional biography are to be further developed (e.g. “care time budget as a social model” [8]): It is necessary to save working time in order to be able to use time quotas in the life course flexibly for care work or for professional qualification.
  3. The concept of “short full-time” (30 to 32 hours) and thus a cultural change in society for everyone (men and women) must be pursued further.
  4. The teaching of digital skills must be made more attractive for girls.
  5. Qualification and further training offers (lifelong learning) after training or studies must be made possible and financed.
  6. Employment and social law safeguarding the flexibilizations resulting from digital change: The social security obligation is to be extended to the solo self-employed. New jobs must be equipped as a real employment relationship. The statutory occupational health and safety regulations must be complied with.
  7. The system of codetermination must be equipped with the necessary tool kit for the age of digitization. This primarily involves training and further education, the organization of working hours, the design of home office workplaces (equipment, insurance, rental and ancillary costs and regular reviews of occupational health and safety regulations), data protection and living wages.
  8. Companies should offer family-sensitive agreements on working hours and workplace design.
  9. New management models - participatory and temporary - must be established in the companies; A career must not depend on a culture of presence.


[1] Lecture by Dr. Kira Marrs at the Family Law / Policy Committee on
February 15, 2017 and brochure: Women in the digital working world of tomorrow. Institute for Social Science Research V., Dec. 2016

[2] quer - ver.di women show FORMAT, issue 3/2016. Digitization 4.0 - a beautiful new world of work ?, p. 2

[3] Forecasts on technical change - proportion of women in the professions concerned. Lecture by Dr. Markus M. Grabka, "Work 4.0 - Blind Spot Gender", on the occasion of the 3rd Gender Studies Conference of DIW Berlin on September 22, 2016

[4] BMFSJ 2015 Digitization Opportunities and challenges for the partnership-based compatibility of family and work

[5] Dr. Karin Jurzcyk / Dr. Claudia Zerle-Elsäßer in: Challenges for families in the digital age, FPI 2/2017 in eaf Bavaria

[6] Federal Statistical Office 2015: How time flies - results on time use in Germany 2012/2013

[7] Prof. Barbara Schwarze, Chair of the Competence Center Technology-Diversity-Equal Opportunities e.V.,