Algorithmic management in the workplace

Artificial intelligence can do so much more than just generate texts and images. Algorithmic management brings a breath of fresh air to the traditional way of work. You can define algorithmic management very simply as the automation of management tasks.

If an algorithm is your boss…

If an algorithm is your boss, the company you work for creates software algorithms to perform management tasks, for example by assigning tasks to you, telling you how to do your task, or automatically evaluating your work. If you are a platform employee, you do your work via the internet by doing click work or freelance remote services, transport or delivery, you sell products online or work at a location to provide manual services. Various authorities estimate that approximately 1% – 2% of the working population in Europe has platform work as their primary employment activity. That number has doubled in recent years and the trend may continue to rise.

Our TNO expert Coen van Gulijk shares his insights about innovation through algorithmic management, its benefits and disadvantages and how this technology impacts the future of leadership in an interview with regards to the paper ‘Algoritmisch management en arbeidsveiligheid: het doel heiligt niet alle middelen’ by Zoomer and van Gulijk.

Algorithmic management in conventional work

Algorithms are also used in conventional companies to manage people. Consider preparing schedules, order processing and time planning. If you have an employment contract, you have better protection than independent platform workers, but even then you are not free from certain forms of coercion.

The primary goal of algorithmic management is to make work more efficient, but it also creates new working relationships and changes labor risks. This is because the tasks that were traditionally done by humans are now done by technology. At the same time, data-driven techniques can provide solutions to prevent occupational accidents. To remind you that your working day is about to end or that it is time for your break… But if we look closer, algorithmic management has generally been found to be unfavourable for working people.

Report: Exploration of the pros and cons of algorithmic management

In collaboration with the Dutch Labor Inspectorate, TNO has conducted research into algorithmic management. This report helps explain what algorithmic management is, how you can classify its different forms (and their consequences) and provides a number of future scenarios for working with algorithmic management. A number of statements have also been drawn up that help to recognize algorithmic management in your working environment.

Read the report (only available in Dutch)

TNO as leading partner in algorithmic management research

TNO is currently collaborating with international parties to make an impact in research on algorithmic management. Our team is participating in the ALGOSH programme, which focuses on the effects of algorithmic management on work and employees at workplaces. To learn more about the ALGOSH programme, take a look at the project page from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (only available in Finnish).
Furthermore, TNO is the coordinator in the project “Occupational safety-related challenges in algorithmic management and solutions for fair work within digital labour platforms”, which is funded by the international partnership SAF€RA. This is a partnership between 16 research funding organizations from 12 European countries who collaborate on research programming and launch joint calls in the field of industrial safety.

Are you interested in participating in research at your workplace?

Would you like to learn more about our activities and get to know how our research can support your organization? Please leave us your contact details using our form, so our team can get in contact with you.

Contact us

Does your workplace already use algorithmic management systems?

If so, TNO would like you to join the TNO symposium ‘Making Digital Work Systems future-proof’. The symposium is planned for Tuesday 04 June 2024 from 10:00 till 16:00, in Leiden. For more details and to register for the event, please send an email to: or

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