November 20, 2020

New Work - the Super Trend

With more and more digitalization, the New Work model is arising. With benefits for both employers and employees, the trend will likely continue. Find out how New Work might change your Business for the better.



New Work - the Super Trend 

The future has reached the world of work. New Work is no longer a buzzword, but has developed rapidly in recent years and has become an integral part of our everyday working lives. New Work means moving away from old structures and toward modern ways of working. 

This brings with it a whole host of positive changes: in the workplace, in processes and teamwork, and in terms of the significance of the job in our lives. But the concept of New Work is also giving rise to criticism.

New Work. What is that?

With increasing digitization and globalization, a fundamental, structural change is taking place in the world of work. The focus is on the needs of employees. What does this mean? Greater autonomy and personal freedom, as well as more influence in decision-making by each individual employee. 

The New Work concept sees work as a meaningful area of life in which one can fulfil oneself. This is based on new approaches to workplace design and a new attitude toward work itself.

New Work is the way of working of the future. Employers must switch to the new concept in order to remain competitive and attractive to employees in the long term. Startups in particular are doing a good job of implementing the concept, but now more and more companies are following suit, recognizing that they need to rely on new-work work styles to be viable in the future.

So what are the distinguishing features of the New Work concept?

  • Digitization in every area

  • Decentralized working: Productive collaboration is possible even over long distances. Time-consuming commutes to the workplace are a thing of the past. But if you want, you can also work in the office or coworking space. Today, the employee makes the decision; bosses no longer dictate anything.

  • Self-employed employees: employees who no longer just carry out instructions, but take responsibility themselves, act independently and make decisions.

What is part of the New Work concept?

The New Work enables employees to lead a flexible life and thus attempts to increase the quality of work and life for employees. What does this mean in concrete terms?

New Leadership

Bosses and supervisors slip into a new role. Authoritarian leadership styles are no longer appropriate. In the New Work environment, supervisors are expected to strengthen employees' motivation and personal responsibility and to support them like a sparring partner.

Hybrid Work

Hybrid work models such as home office and remote work are geared toward employees and enable more personal freedom and flexibility. 

Hybrid work combines working in the office with the ability to do one's job from anywhere - whether it's a café, coworking space or beach. 

While companies were sceptical at first, recent years have shown employers worldwide that hybrid work is entirely possible - and sometimes even shows amazing results in terms of productivity, creativity and employee motivation.

In modern, virtual teams, employees work in a concentrated manner where they also spend their free time. This also means that working is increasingly combined with travelling. This form of working while travelling - called workation - is increasingly becoming the norm, especially now that there is a growing labour market of self-employed and freelancers.

Companies' confidence in their employees that these freedoms will not be exploited boosts employee motivation, which in turn has a positive impact on productivity and creativity. A win-win situation for both employee and employer.

Flexible working time models

The classic 9-to-5 job is finally a thing of the past. In the age of New Work, flexitime or trust-based working hours count. Employees can flexibly arrange their time and work when they are most productive.

Job sharing

Several employees share a job.  For example, instead of one full-time employee, companies hire two part-time employees who share tasks and responsibilities.

Desk sharing

Multiple employees share a workstation. In the age of Hybrid Work, many workstations would go unoccupied for a large amount of time if they were designated for just one employee. With desk sharing, however, the workstation is used to its fullest potential, with one employee using the space while the other works from a home office, for example. Height-adjustable desks and hardware that can be used by different employees make it possible.

New Workflows in the New Way of Working

The concept of New Working places new demands on the way work is done. The result is new forms of work that require rethinking on both the company and employee sides. 

1. Agile Working

In agile working, responsibility shifts away from management to work and project teams. Management is now only on hand to advise. The result: companies can work faster and more flexibly, employees feel valued and are motivated to make a difference.

Agile Working breaks up the old, slow structures and processes and combats unproductive multitasking. What's needed is more flexibility and faster reactions to change. Rigid hierarchies are a thing of the past; today, the only thing that matters is the competencies of the employees. 

Agile working means short-term goals, lots of feedback, small teams and short decision-making paths. New creative and innovative methods and approaches such as SCRUM, Kanban or Design Thinking are becoming central components of the New Way of Working.

2. Work-life blending instead of balance

One aspect that is often criticized in the context of the New Work concept, but is by no means necessarily negative in principle: Instead of a perfect division between job and free time, work and private life are merging.

Employees can thus react more flexibly to private circumstances and work in a self-determined manner. In concrete terms, this means that private phone calls can be made during working hours, but also that e-mails can be answered during "free time". The result: employees are healthier, happier, more creative and more productive.

Companies are already offering their employees more and more health and leisure options that enable flexible working time models and hybrid working. As a result, working life is becoming a valued part of life in the New Work.

3. knowledge worker & learning worker

Key terms in the concept are continuous learning and training, innovation and creativity. 

The Knowledge Worker must think creatively and innovatively in order to solve problems, while at the same time acquiring knowledge. This is where the Learning Worker comes in. He or she must be constantly learning; there must always be a willingness to continue learning in a variety of areas. 

This concept requires a high level of self-motivation. E-learning courses are not enough. Employees, on the other hand, must always be open to new ways of thinking and learning. This means lifelong learning through new technologies and methods. 

4. Crowdworking

Crowdworkers offer their services via the Internet and work from anywhere in the world. In the age of New Work, they are hired by companies primarily for tasks that require a high workload and for which no in-depth knowledge of the company in question is necessary. For example, crowdworkers are particularly popular for testing apps or categorizing images.

Online platforms bring crowdworkers and companies together, which is why this form of New Work is also known as the platform economy.

Companies do not yet want to completely dispense with permanent employees, which means that crowdworking usually remains just a sideline for workers.

However, crowdworking platforms are flourishing and offer the option of working from anywhere. This makes it quite conceivable that companies will choose the freelancer model rather than the permanent employee model in the future in order to be as flexible as possible.

Advantages of New Work

Companies that have cultivated the New Work improve their image and have a competitive advantage with applicants over employers that have not yet arrived in the New Work. At the same time, the popular concept offers plenty of advantages that completely revolutionize the understanding of work.

  1. First and foremost are the greater personal freedoms and opportunities for employees to exert influence. There is more freedom in the job, decisions can be made by the employees themselves, employees are no longer under constant observation and control and at the same time bear more responsibility. As a result, personalities can develop more on the job, each individual can contribute more and implement their own ideas, take on responsibility and thus help shape the company.

  1. In addition, family and career are easier and more compatible. Decentralized working allows more flexibility, so that working parents in particular benefit from the modern environment. The double burden of career and child is significantly reduced.

  1. The elimination of rigid hierarchies also makes open, transparent communication possible for the first time. The new communication structures encourage open exchange across different hierarchical levels, so that objections and ideas from all employees are heard and analysed.

  1. Ultimately, the New Work concept - and this may come as a surprise at first - is also intended to strengthen the community within the team. Even if not everyone sits together in the office and only works together virtually, the new type of communication can mean that decentralized work functions better than if all employees shared an office. Geographical separation brings the team concept more into focus - working toward a common goal and what each individual can contribute to a successful project are becoming increasingly important.

What structures does the New Work model require in companies?

The fundamental prerequisite for the success of the concept is to combine professional development with the personal development of employees and not to consider them separately.

In addition, other aspects are required for successful New Work:

1. IT infrastructure

The company's IT infrastructure must enable every employee to work at any time, regardless of time or location. Employee laptops and company cell phones for everyone are a matter of course. In addition, there are practical tools for digital conferences, a uniform work interface and a company network that is accessible to every employee.

Since internal company data and systems must be accessible from anywhere for hybrid and remote work, IT security measures must be taken to protect sensitive data and avoid hacker attacks.

2. qualified employees

Along with point 1, tech-savvy employees need to be familiarized with the company's new IT infrastructure and receive training on applications in hardware and software to stay current with the latest enterprise technologies.

3. Smart office concepts.

In the age of New Work, offices are less likely to be frequented, raising the question of how best to use the space. Some companies - especially smaller ones - will abandon their offices altogether and rent flexible coworking spaces. That way, they only pay rent when team members are in one place. 

Other companies will have to completely rethink their office design and adapt it to the new requirements of New Work and to the needs of their employees. 

4. Labour law and employee health

Companies that offer flexible working models such as home office, remote work or hybrid working must pay attention to specific regulations and requirements. For example, it is a prerequisite that employees in the home office are provided with work equipment such as laptops, cell phones, writing materials and office furniture.

5. New management style

Thanks to flat hierarchies and more freedom, work in the New Work can be designed according to the employee's own needs and wishes. 

Classic, authoritarian leadership styles are unsuitable for the concept. Instead, superiors slip into the role of coach. Today's bosses are more like role models; they inspire and motivate their employees. 

New Work = New Office Design

While the opportunities and new freedoms brought by working in a home office were enjoyed at first, today some employees are increasingly longing for a change of scenery and non-virtual encounters. Spontaneous contacts between meetings or brief exchanges in the hallway or at the coffee machine are just not possible in the home office, but for many this is what makes the workday so pleasant and varied.

The experiences of the last few years have changed the demands on office space in the New Work world. Offices are transforming from places of work to corporate cultural hubs, where corporate values become visible. The New Office is where the "we" feeling of the employees is created, where collaboration and co-creation physically take place.

In the office of the future, real and digital space merge seamlessly; here, the employee in the office can easily network with the colleague working remotely. 

New technologies are creating greater mobility, while the globalized labour market is giving rise to new forms of organization. These in turn place new demands on the office of the New Way of Working, which must be designed entirely for creativity, innovation and collaboration.

In the long term, three spatial concepts in particular will shape the New Office:

  1. Coworking spaces such as cafés or lounges for team and project work.

  1. Individually designed, small rooms for highly concentrated work with height-adjustable tables and ergonomic seating.

  1. Technologized communication spaces that enable employees to work together as a team on-site or virtually.

Activity based working

What is currently being worked on? How much space is needed for it? Workspaces in the New Work must be able to cope with differentiated, changing working conditions. Depending on the task, a different working environment is needed so that work can be done productively and creatively. 

The ambience is all the more important the more creativity and personal responsibility are demanded of the employee. Emotionalizing the office space is expressly desired, so that employees feel at home in meeting zones in corridors, lounges, working cafés, project rooms or libraries.

Working Café

The Working Café of the New Work is what the classic reception used to be, the bar what the reception desk used to be.

The public space of the new offices is no longer just for sitting and waiting. Today, depending on the company, guests, suppliers and customers sit, work and communicate. Some companies even make their Working Café open to the public, strengthening image and branding.

Conference Lobby

A mixture of conference room and lobby is the Conference Lobby of New Work. A lobby-like relaxation area is openly connected to the classic meeting room and thus creates an emotional balance to the rather cool meeting room atmosphere. 

Because of the lobby's lounge ambience, with its soft upholstery, warm colours and pleasant lighting mood, we feel as if we are in our own living room. Good interior design is essential here and contributes to improving the quality of communication and corporate culture. 

Coworking Space

In the coworking space of the New Work age, employees work together with crowd workers and external freelancers in temporary project teams. Coworking spaces provide rooms for random meetings for short exchanges in between, as well as retreat rooms for quick meetings.

Library

The library is the retreat for non-communication. Without books, but with the feel of a library: quiet, homelike and conveying a sense of security, the library is the perfect counterbalance to the hectic office.

Criticism of New Work

Although the concept has many advantages, there are also critical voices that see risks and dangers in New Work.

  1. The New Work concept requires a great deal of organization and coordination. Employees in the various forms of work must therefore have very good time and self-management skills. Who works where and when on what must be precisely regulated. Without clear structures and transparent communication, chaos reigns. It can be countered that this is a risk that companies have full control over.

  1. The merging of private and work life makes it harder to switch off and recover from work. Constant accessibility, never really being off work, could possibly end up resulting in extra work. The pressure to be constantly available could cause employees to become stressed and overworked. 

  1. If the concept of New Working is introduced too quickly, the hoped-for increase in productivity and innovation could turn into the opposite. The risk exists, especially in the case of inadequate planning and poor leadership - but can be reduced with the targeted use of office apps to provide support.

  1. New Work requires a high affinity for technology and the willingness to constantly educate oneself. Thus, the concept is not for everyone, and workers who cannot adapt to the new age will not prevail.

  1. The greater individualization of work and new forms of work such as digital nomadism and crowd working are, by their nature, more solitary and something for lone wolves. In other words, New Work carries the risk of loneliness and possibly fosters the development of depression. 

  1. Companies do not become more successful through New Work because the strong focus on employees means that the market situation and customers are ignored. Critics fear that customers will migrate to the competition and sales will collapse if companies focus only on the needs of their employees.

Conclusion: New Work must fit the company

Anyone who wants to jump on the New Work trend can fail. New Work undoubtedly does not fit every company. It should therefore be carefully planned, organized and ensured that the right employees are on board. Because in New Work, everyone must be able to manage themselves and be trustworthy.

If the new forms of work are implemented well, they definitely offer many opportunities - not only, but especially for employees.

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