Project: Work 2.0. New demands on employees and their workers' councils from the use of social media



Social media are applications which enable users to exchange ideas, discuss, collaborate and design media content alone or together. The most popular applications are social networks, wikis, weblogs and micro-blogging services such as Twitter.

Company uses are, for example, internal weblogs to support exchange and mutual consulting among the employees; enterprise wikis to collect knowledge and ideas; the company's own Facebook site or Twitter account; or the integration of ideas and activities which are developed by users or customers online ("crowdsourcing").

Yet there are only few results about the consequences for employees. However, it is clear that information management and distribution, the appropriation of knowledge, communication and practices of self-presentation will change. Improved internal communication and cooperation as well as self-determined working arrangements can be positive consequences; time pressure, permanent availability, and stress can be negative consequences.


The project investigates which demands arise from the company use of social media from employees' point of view and which various ways of use and coping strategies employees develop. Further questions are how far social media lead to new options for enrichments and assistances, and how far they create additional pressure and risks.

Additionally, the project investigates how workers' councils act with regard to social media, which problems they perceive, and which courses for actions they have already developed. 

Possibly impacted areas are: working time, expectation of permanent availability, compression of work, rationalisation, health and safety protection, qualification, education, employees' surveillance etc.


  • A quantitative online questionnaire will survey which social media applications are already in use, how widely spread the company use of social media is, and which experiences worker's councils have had with social media in their companies.
  • Within three companies from different sectors the use of social media will be investigated in detail. Therefore, companies will be chosen which use social media for their internal as well as for their external communication. 
    • In every company at least ten interviews with employees who work with social media will be conducted. 
    • Additionally, members of the workers' councils will be interviewed. 
    • Participant observations, analyses of the applications and tools used as well as contracts and guidelines will be included.

  • The results will be presented and discussed in workshops within the companies.