In a file entitled " Humans & Machines. What interactions at work? "the National Digital Council calls for digital tools to be put at the service of workers. It identifies 10 levers to make workers actors in their relationship with digital technology.
The report first looks at how interactions are formed between humans and the role that the body and non-verbal language play in them, before extending this examination to human-machine interactions.
From menial workers to managers
These observations are confronted with the experiences of the workers, starting with the menial workers. In industry, some industrial robots or exoskeletons have improved working conditions by performing dangerous tasks in the place of workers.
The questions that emerged during the industrial revolution remain, however, entirely relevant: the loss of autonomy, the denial of know-how, the reinforcement of control and surveillance devices...
More recently, we are witnessing an extension of certain devices to other categories of menial workers, in the service sector for example, with a reinforcement of the timing of the tasks to be carried out, which is often experienced as going against the qualities of emotional empathy and the interactional basis of many of these professions.
Intermediate workers and managers had been relatively unaffected by the industrial revolutions until then. But the digital revolution has brought the machine into the office: e-mails, business telephones, company messaging systems, videoconferencing, surveillance tools.
Digital tools are now omnipresent and challenge the bodies and ways of working of these socio-professional categories, with a particularly strong impact on local managers.
Despite the positive effects of digital tools for efficiency, transparency, autonomy at work, the tools can be perceived as competitors and as synonymous with a loss of responsibility for these managers.
Anticipating the effects
While there is often a significant gap between the intentions behind the design of tools and their actual use," observe Justine Cassell, Olga Kokshagina, Dominique Pasquier and Éric Salobir, members of the Conseil national du numérique, " it is necessary to anticipate their effects with measures to :
- Involve the workers concerned as early as possible in the design and deployment of their tools;
- Train all stakeholders (workers, managers, social partners, occupational physicians, etc.) in their use;
- Carry out an impact study prior to their deployment, including their potential effects on work, but also on interactions within teams and collective dynamics.
The authors of the report observe that it is then a matter of "encouraging support for employees through a continuous process of evaluation and improvement of exchanges around these tools and the working methods they generate in order to:
- Implement a continuous feedback system on how workers experience their relationship with digital tools;
- Supporting the deployment of hybrid work, between telework and face-to-face work, which is not a burden but a source of opportunities and an increase in the quality of life at work and in personal life;
- Ensure the effectiveness of an open, multi-level, regular and transparent social dialogue including all stakeholders concerned by digital tools;
- Making digital work a pillar of corporate social and environmental responsibility. "
Make the regulation of digital work tools efficient and effective
"While digital rights and freedoms enjoy a rich and developing legal and regulatory framework, their applications in the work context need to be consolidated, particularly in the area of digital surveillance at work." This would include:
- To make the regulation of digital work tools efficient and effective, by clarifying the pre-existing provisions on digital rights and freedoms applicable in a work context, by reinforcing them and by ensuring that those who use the tools are involved in the design and implementation of the regulation;
- Increase vigilance and the effectiveness of workers' rights in the area of workplace surveillance. It is essential to reinforce the information of workers on their rights and the means of recourse available to them in case of breach. This training must also be aimed at the workers' representatives in order to better ensure their monitoring and advisory mission;
- Encourage and deepen research on digital work tools and their contributions and impacts on workers.
This dossier is the result of debates organized within the National Digital Council, meetings with stakeholders and a review of existing scientific literature. " Far from claiming to offer a conclusive view on this subject, this work aims to encourage the production of other works, reflections and especially to exchange on this subject. "