Socio-technical perspectives on smart working: creating meaningful and sustainable systems

Peter M. Bednar, Christine Welch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Technological advances have made possible industrial and commercial applications of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and highly integrated manufacturing systems. It has also freed business activity from a focus on place, as both work activities and markets have been able to harness information and communication technologies in order to operate remotely. As a result, researchers have highlighted a phenomenon of ‘smart’ working. Some have pointed to a fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) in which ‘smart’ factories use robotics to achieve high performance. There is now a suggestion of progress towards Industry 5.0, in which technological and social systems work in harmony to deliver personalised mass customization of products and services. This paper examines these developments from the perspective of unique, individual understandings of work roles and sustainability, posing the questions ‘Smart’ from whose point of view? Do smart systems promote sustainable organizations? How should design of smart systems be approached? It suggests that contemporary socio-technical systems approaches to organizational analysis are the best way to support harnessing of smart technologies in organizations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Frontiers
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 3 May 2019


  • Emergence
  • Industry 4.0
  • Industry 5.0
  • Open systems
  • Smart working
  • Socio-technical approaches


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