The term "New Work" has become a buzzword that is being used more and more frequently in connection with the Corona crisis. Yet New Work is more than just home office and flexible working hours. Behind the term is a multi-layered theory that refers to various important transformations in the modern working world.
We want to show you in a compact way what New Work is all about, what advantages and challenges it poses for employers and managers, and how you can successfully shape the change to the new world of work.
The most important aspects of New Work
Business psychologist and New Work researcher Sven Väth defines five important features that characterize the culture of the new world of work and the companies in it:
Freedom: In the new world of work, the freedom to experiment and make mistakes is more important than ever before. New findings are implemented more quickly thanks to greater networking.
Personal responsibility: Responsibility no longer rests on a few managers, but on the shoulders of all. Individual employees are given broader scope for decision-making, including financial decisions.
Sense: Individual employees are deployed primarily according to their personal strengths. In addition to purely financial value creation, companies also pursue economic and cultural value creation and subordinate all business processes to this.
Development: Maintaining the status quo is no longer considered desirable. Instead, the aim is continuous change. This applies above all to individual training, corporate social structures and the working methods used.
Social accountability: Companies in the new world of work stand for environmentally compatible business practices and transparency, including in pricing. They are involved in regional, cultural, research or social activities.
How the transformations of our time are fostering the emergence of a new-work culture
Various developments of our time are promoting the organic emergence of a working world that can be explained by the principles of the New Work theory. One of the most important factors is technological progress, which will increasingly lead to the elimination of jobs.
But the job requirements of the younger generation in particular are also changing how we work. Young people increasingly want greater flexibility, meaningful tasks and networked work. Careers, on the other hand, are playing an increasingly minor role.
New Work is changing the way we work
In practice, there are some working methods that are considered typical for New Work. These are in particular:
Flexible working hours: The equation "attendance equals performance" is becoming less and less true in modern companies. Instead, the focus is on achieving set goals.
Flexible work location: The fixed office as a place of work is also becoming less important. Employees are expected to be able to do their work at home as well.
Desk sharing: This eliminates the need for employees to have their own desk in the office. Offices become a kind of in-house coworking space where employees look for a new workstation every day.
Individualization of work assignments: It is not the job description, position or salary that determines the distribution of work tasks, but the individual skills of the employees.
Decentralized teams: Communication in teams is increasingly virtual. Team members are increasingly sitting at different locations or homes.
Project-based teams: Teams are being formed more and more frequently for individual projects. The inclusion of freelancers and other external parties in internal company teams is a matter of course.
Challenges for employers and managers
Implementing the principles of New Work in the company brings with it a number of challenges. In particular, managers often find it personally difficult to delegate important tasks to employees. The management of teams is becoming increasingly complex.
But creating physical and social structures can also be a challenge. New Work requires a different working environment than has existed in many companies to date. Office layouts and communication channels often need to be modernized and adapted.
HR management is also increasingly faced with new tasks. In the New Work, a trend toward shorter, purely project-based employment relationships can be observed. More and more tasks are being handed over to freelancers who are not directly bound by instructions within the company. The recruiting, retention and development of employees in the company must therefore also be rethought.
New Work offers advantages - for everyone
The advantages that a new-work environment offers employees are obvious. They benefit from more flexible scheduling, more interesting tasks and an increased sense of purpose in their working lives. But there are also benefits for employers from the change in corporate culture.
If the change is successfully implemented, companies can often record higher profits. This is also due to the fact that the establishment of new-work methods leads to a continuous expansion of the company's own competencies and the portfolio offered. The more dynamic structures mean that changes can be responded to more quickly and efficiently.
If value creation is no longer sought exclusively in economic profit, this strengthens the corporate identity.
Of course, the savings potential must also be mentioned. Working methods such as desk sharing save costs for equipment and rooms. The trend toward project-based and freelance work contracts enables good staffing without long-term employee retention.
Success factors for a successful transformation of the corporate culture
However, if the shift to New Work is made abruptly, the change in corporate culture may also entail losses. It is therefore important to take a planned approach that implements the principles and working methods mentioned step by step in the company.
In its trend study "Arbeitswelt im Umbruch," the University of St. Gallen names four success factors for implementing a new-work culture in one's own company:
Visionary Leadership: The management develops a clear, transparent and easily communicated vision for the future of the company. There is an open management climate that encourages new and creative approaches from employees.
Culture of trust and support: Management and employees work together in a spirit of trust and exchange. Every employee can request support in the completion of his or her tasks without sanctions.
Soft skills and employee identification: Employees have skills that help them cope positively with stress and motivate themselves. The most important competence of the employees are their social skills in the team. Employees can strongly identify with the corporate vision offered.
Flexible corporate structures: New, flexible working methods can only be implemented if the entire corporate structure has a certain flexibility. This means: decentralized, flexible organizational structures and openness to new suggestions from all levels.
The results of the University of St. Gallen show: To arrive in the new-work world, it is not enough to simply introduce flexible working time models or home offices. First of all, management must work on creating the right conditions - then nothing will stand in the way of the company's success in the new world of work.