What is New Work?
Work in our technological, digital and global world is changing. There are new concepts of space, new organisational structures, new management methods, new models of cooperation and much more. When it comes to all of these changes, the umbrella term is New Work.
But it’s not just about new ways of working. At its core, it’s about the work itself and making sure that people experience it as meaningful and fulfilling. It’s about the „purpose“ being right.
The Austrian-American philosopher Frithjof Bergmann is considered to be the founder of the New Work movement. He noticed that more and more people were losing a sense of meaningfulness and passion in their work. He began asking questions about the “real want” in work – a question that is more relevant today than ever.
What we want and need today are meaningful corporate cultures that focus on people. This is future-proof and, as a result, adds value. It’s about taking small steps to encourage a change in thinking and making work people friendly and life friendly.
New Work has five aspects:
- People focus
- New Work leadership and collaboration
- Agile organisation
- New space: Activity based working
- Social responsibility
People focus means that work is designed to be people friendly. Flexible thinking and creativity are encouraged, routine activities are constantly and critically examined. Learning and development are considered important and knowledge is actively shared. Communication is transparent and people’s health is handled with care.
New Work leadership and collaboration mean that we work together towards our visions. Commitment, personal responsibility and self-organization are actively encouraged and supported. The corporate structures are changeable and do not solidify. Diversity, big picture thinking and related actions are all welcome. Together we actively work on a corporate culture in which performance and people are not a contradiction in terms.
Agile organisation describes structures that can be flexibly adapted to rapidly changing situations. This applies to the organisational structure as well as to its processes. Opportunities and risks are regularly checked and personal actions are aligned in small steps and the experiences of all employees can flow directly into practice.
New Space: Activity based working means keeping room concepts so flexible that they can be changed again and again for new forms of collaboration. This also includes mobile working so that the various places of work can be flexibly integrated.
Social responsibility means that the company’s economic profit is supplemented by ecological and social considerations. It’s about resource conservation, short transport routes, sustainable use of materials and work spaces. And it is about the contribution of the organisation to a more humane society.
WHAT IS NEW WORK NOT?
New Work is not about just introducing “nice” stuff, although there is nothing to be said against that. Table football, free fruit and drinks may be nice in and of themselves, but this is not what it is about. New Work is only established when the people find the work itself is fun. When it creates and reinforces passion in and at work.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE WE START?
We don’t need to start New Work with a “big bang”. Even small changes and experiments can start the move towards modern and meaningful work.
The important things here are:
- Top management must be convinced of the change in mindset that is needed, the values of New Work and be open to cultural change.
- The focus on the people and on the economic success of the company must go hand in hand.
- The introduction of New Work is not possible without conscious change management.
- Being a role model and taking personal responsibility are key if you want to switch to New Work. Everyone in the company should also start to act in an environmentally conscious way and develop sustainable concepts.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS AND HAZARDS OF NEW WORK?
Sometimes New Work is used as an excuse to reduce costs. As soon as employees recognise that and see the real intention, they refuse to cooperate. At that moment, New Work is dead in the water. Many people are not used to self-organisation and an abrupt switch can lead to chaos. Early training helps here.
New Work can only be successful if people’s mental and physical health is consistently supported. If this is not the case, the blurring of work and private life can lead to the exploitation of staff goodwill or self-induced burnout. This is particularly risky with young talents who are very enthusiastic and have a lot of energy.
MORE ABOUT NEW WORK
We have designed a new online programme “New Work Leadership” that deals with all of the above in one compact course.
You can find detailed information here: CARMANN New Work Leadership Programme.
Just contact us if you are interested in finding out more!
Or maybe you need some help with New Work Leadership and / or Digital Transformation within your company? We offer tailor-made programmes in line with your company’s needs. Get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR FURTHER READING
Frithjof Bergmann: New work, new culture, 2017
Simon Sinek: Start with WHY. How great leaders inspire everyone to take action, 2014
Thanks to Daniela Ottacher, Sheila Purdy, Christopher Rettenbacher and Hansjörg Zahradnik for their ideas regarding this article!
Autor: Martin Carmann
Martin Carmann ist der Gründer von CARMANN. Ihm ist es wichtig, anstehende Themen sehr rasch und im Kern zu erkennen, verständlich auf den Punkt zu bringen und klar anzusprechen. Aus vielen seiner Begegnungen mit Kunden entsteht eine intensive und langjährige Zusammenarbeit auf Augenhöhe. Er teilt sein Wissen freigiebig und vorbehaltlos, die Unterstützung der Unternehmen „von innen heraus“ ist sein Credo.