Socio-Technical Perspectives on Smart Working: Creating Meaningful and Sustainable Systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


  • Peter M. Bednar
  • Christine Welch
External organisations
  • University of Portsmouth
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Information Systems, Social aspects


  • Emergence, Industry 4.0, Industry 5.0, Open systems, Smart working, Socio-technical approaches
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-298
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Systems Frontiers
Issue number2
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr
Publication categoryResearch