Future Work Lab

Where is work headed?

How do we ensure that employees, works council representatives and managers are fit for the digitalized work of tomorrow? How can we best leverage the potential of new technologies for our work? On the factory floor, but also with regard to processes and services, digitalization is raising many new questions. Headed by Fraunhofer IAO, the newly opened “Future Work Lab – an innovation laboratory for work, people and technology” offers innovative approaches and answers. The lab incorporates the demonstration of concrete applications for Industrie 4.0, the development of expertise, and cutting-edge work research. Its goal is to ensure cohesive development in the areas of work, people and technology.

Three ways to use the Future Work Lab:

1. Demonstration Center

First, there are three different circuits around the Demonstration Center, which visualize the working world of the future and show what technologies and applications are already possible today. In addition, future scenarios illustrate the division of work between people and technology. For example, the circuit “Today+” shows current work in modern, industrialized SMEs. The second circuit – “2025+ People-Centric” – illustrates what industrial work could look like in future if the needs of people are placed at the heart of industrial design. By contrast, the “2025+ Technology-Centric” circuit elaborates a scenario in which technology plays a dominating role.

In this way, the initiators want to present the entire spectrum of industrial work in the future. At the same time, companies can establish contact with potential partners with a view to benefitting from their experience.

2. Lernwelt “Fit for Future Work”

Second, the “Fit for Future Work” world of learning program in the Expertise Development and Consulting Center offers seminars, workshops and further education opportunities for the employees of manufacturing companies. Here, the center’s experts work with partnering companies to develop targeted training concepts for Industrie 4.0.

3. Ideas Center

Third, the academically oriented “Work in Progress” Ideas Center for Work Research provides a central platform for scientific dialogue and further research on the industrial work of the future. By locating the center directly within the Future Work Lab, the project partners want to ensure the swift transfer of ideas from theory to practice.


Headed up by Fraunhofer IAO, the “Future Work Lab – an innovation laboratory for work, people and technology” was founded on the ARENA2036 research campus in Stuttgart-Vaihingen. At the lab, which opened in February 2017, the following organizations pool their expertise in the area of Industrie 4.0: the Fraunhofer Institutes for Industrial Engineering IAO, and for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT) at the University of Stuttgart, and the Institute of Industrial Manufacturing and Management IFF. The goal is to act as a point of contact for manufacturing companies and their employees who have questions relating to the smart factory. The research and development project receives funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the “Innovations for the Manufacturing, Services and Work of Tomorrow” program and is supervised by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA).