First Published: June 9, 2022
Drawing on data from Hungarian manufacturing companies, this paper aims to explore the ways in which digital technologies affect the nature and routineness of work. It concludes that digital technologies impinge on some defining features of occupations, such as workload and intensity of work; the degree to which the tasks can be explicitly defined, measured and codified; composition and amount of skills required for task execution; and the importance of experience or tacit knowledge for task execution. Non-technological factors, such as managerial approach to technology and work design moderate outcomes. Evidence indicates that a reduction in the routine content of job tasks applies only to relatively skilled employees. For low-skilled employees, certain digital assistance solutions increase routine and engender deskilling. We conclude that a qualitative enrichment of shopfloor work becomes apparent only if (1) employees are skilled enough to become upskilled – and thus engaged not only in digitally enabled but also in digitally augmented, high-value activities; (2) employees’ work tasks are reorganised, work design and work practices modified, and employees upskilled. Without appropriate managerial interventions envisaging the augmentation of work, digital technology implementation entails deskilling and/or technological unemployment, rather than providing richer dimensions to shopfloor work.