Prof. Dr. Michael Fellmann

Project Coordinator



New Participation Formats for the Integrated Design of Product and Work Innovations Through the "Community of Work"


Initial situation

With the "digitalisation" of work, the economy and society are at a similar threshold as at the beginning of the industrial revolution. In terms of work, digitalisation brings with it great scope, as old patterns of temporal, spatial and hierarchical organisation of work are dissolving. They are being replaced by great flexibility in terms of working hours and locations as well as content and tools. Due to the simultaneously increasing complexity and interconnectedness of today's work processes, motivating and health-promoting work design can no longer be achieved by a "central planner" such as an HR department.

Aim of the research project

The aim of PANIWO is to develop a transferable method and platform for bottom-up driven, integrated design of product and work innovation and to test it in SMEs. The role of employees is thus upgraded, as they themselves become innovation drivers and contribute to the future viability of the company. In addition to product innovations, which are essential for the survival of many SMEs in highly competitive markets, the design of work should also be taken into account. The use of innovative participation formats such as innovation projects in combination with novel crowdworking-based assessment methods such as social forecasting in the context of integrated product and work design has not yet been tested and represents pioneering work. It is therefore to be tested in an application scenario involving ACCAS and GROB whether these formats and assessment methods can actually be applied in practice. To answer this question, a practice-oriented method and participation platform is to be designed that allows a model application in SMEs. Nor can it be borne by management or by established forms and structures of workplace co-determination alone. Rather, it is necessary that a broad involvement of employees takes place in the sense of a "community of work" that responsibly and cooperatively helps to shape their individual, digitalised working world in terms of work processes and products. So far, however, such bottom-up strategies have been limited primarily to generating product ideas. The innovation potential in the area of work design and organisation has hardly been considered so far.

Social added value

Through the application of the method and platform by the practice partners, insights into the benefits of the innovative participation formats for the integrated design of product and work innovations are to be gained. If successful, the consortium's market access will enable the methods and tools to be widely used in SMEs so that they remain employee-friendly, innovative and productive despite global competition.

All information on the project and the project partners can be found here!