Many companies and employees are open to the possibility to work from home and will remain so in the future – unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is often even preferred to working at the office. Working professionally from your own home has many advantages but leads to a number of challenges. The initiative “wir-forschen.digital” (“we are researching digitally”) of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) invites citizens to add their personal challenges at wir-forschen.digital/home-office/ (in German only) for which they wish to get support from the scientific community. Researchers and students will then jointly develop solutions.
“When working from home, I get too little exercise.” “I feel like I constantly have to be available and relaxing leads to a sense of guilt.” “Without my usual work environment, I find it difficult to work effectively.” These are some of the obstacles and challenges when working from home. There is a wide variety of them, affecting employees, leaders, and family members in different ways. KIT researchers and students take up these challenges and develop innovative solutions together with citizens. The campaign “Working from home? Challenge accepted!” started at the beginning of April. It is part of the digital citizen science initiative “wir-forschen.digital” organized by the KIT Institute of Information Systems and Marketing (IISM), allowing citizens to take an active part in the research on equal footing with researchers, using digital platforms that render the exchange independent from time and locations.
Obstacles in the Daily Work from Home
In four thematic areas – movement & health, IT security, motivation & leadership, and collaboration tools – citizens can describe the challenges of their personal daily work from home, for example when they wonder how to protect themselves against cybercrime when working from home, or how, as leaders, they can motivate employees from home and hold their teams together. “We are open to a great variety of questions and want to include the largest number of people possible,” says project coordinator Anke Greif-Winzrieth, doctoral candidate at IISM and manager of KIT’s experimental Karlsruhe Decision and Design Laboratory (KD²Lab). She stresses: “This participatively developed platform is easily accessible and usable.” For selected challenges, KIT students and researchers will develop solutions collaborating with citizens. “We will present the results to the public in summer – obviously cordially inviting all those involved and interested,” says the information scientist.
Anyone interested can visit wir-forschen.digital/home-office/ (in German only) to get involved in the campaign. Additionally, participation terminals are placed in the foyer of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media (Lorenzstraße 19, 76135 Karlsruhe) and in the exhibition “BioMedien” at the ZKM.
Experience Science with Digital Citizen Science
“Science should no longer take place just in the closed laboratories and offices of the universities. All citizens should easily be able to participate in the entire research process. That is how we can democratize science,” Professor Christof Weinhardt of IISM emphasizes, who is leading the project. The invitation to formulate one’s own research questions and share practical knowledge with the researchers will allow anyone to experience science. In this project, scientists from five economic and sociological KIT institutes study and develop methods and infrastructure to involve the citizens in the research. As a part of this, the new digital citizen science platform and open participation terminals are under development to be provided to the public. This will offer an opportunity for active participation in the research activities to anyone interested, as well as communication and collaboration between each other and the researchers – a matter that is also central to the Science Year 2022 – Participate!, organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the German scientific initiative “Wissenschaft im Dialog”.
About the Participation Project “wir-forschen.digital“
The project “wir-forschen.digital” with the overarching topic “well-being, work, and education at home” is funded by the KIT excellence funding program “KIT Future Fields” with EUR 600,000 from the beginning of 2021 until the end of 2022. Institutes involved in the project are: The Institute of Information Systems and Marketing with Professor Alexander Mädche, Professor Benjamin Scheibehenne, and Professor Christof Weinhardt, the Institute of Applied Informatics and Formal Description Methods with Professor Melanie Volkamer, the Institute of Sports and Sports Science with Professor Alexander Woll, the Institute of Management with Professor Petra Nieken, and the Institute for Economic Policy Research with Professor Nora Szech.
The campaign “Working from home? Challenge accepted!“ can be accessed:
- Directly online at wir-forschen.digital/home-office/ (in German only)
- At the participation terminals in the foyer and the exhibition “BioMedien” at the ZKM (Lorenzstraße 16, 76135 Karlsruhe)
More Information (in German): https://wir-forschen.digital/
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.