In the new world of work, the buzzword New Work was often used before the Corona crisis. Post-its, football tables, and new tools for digital collaboration, such as Slack, were the symbols for New Work in the corporate context. They stood for newness, change and modernity in the world of work. Those who identified these symbols simply as New Work could thus quickly ask: Is New Work in crisis?
New Work workspaces and fancy office spaces have plummeted in value, especially for companies. Collaboration via digital channels, on the other hand, has become a decisive factor overnight. Companies have acted quickly and positioned themselves accordingly.
So is new work now superfluous because we are already in the new world of work or because other aspects of new work have become uninteresting? Quite the opposite. The crisis offers you the chance not to slow down the change forced by Corona to gradually approach the old working world again, but to consciously push the flywheel of transformation further to define together with your employees and colleagues how you can productively and meaningfully shape your company stably and sustainably. New Work correctly implemented offers you the tools to make this happen.
If you were in a well-performing company at the beginning of March, you most likely had good years behind you. A good environment of colleagues and employees with whom one could cope with the opportunities and challenges of ordinary work day after day. Functioning personal relationships and a well-rehearsed work rhythm. All in all, the right environment for productive work and personal development.
And then Suddenly, Everything was Different.
Due to the Corona crisis, companies and their employees were forced into a new world of work. They were working remotely from a home office, often with a teaching job for their children running alongside at the same time and adhering to strict regulations for on-site work, especially in production. Overnight, a new world of work emerged. Thus, uncertainty and change became very tangible for everyone, whether manager or trainee, within a few days.
A complete return to the old working world of the beginning of the year still seems a long way off and is longed for in many places. However, this return is not necessary if companies use organizational development geared to the needs of their employees to increase their productivity despite the Corona crisis and save costs in the long term. This is precisely what New Work can do.
Revolution in the World of Work
New Work describes an alternative economic system that changes the context in which work is performed in an organization by the individual. New Work makes it possible to harmonize personal attitudes and values with corporate goals. Identifying the individual with the company increases and creates an awareness of the added value of meaningful work.
What initially sounds very revolutionary about New Work was also meant precisely by New Work founder Frithjof Bergmann. The wage-labor system, with which the majority of our society earns its living, must be abolished.
Our work ethic makes us do even undesirable, even pointless tasks because that’s the way it is as employees and has proven wrong. So, it is not particularly difficult to see the theses in Bergmann’s book New Work, New Culture as an attack on the organization of work in companies.
Why should a company deal with a concept that seems to call into question its raison d’être as an employer fundamentally? New Work should therefore not be immediately understood as an “all or nothing” principle in organizational development. However, companies can work together with their employees to move step by step toward more meaningful work.
New Work is More than New Office Space and Tools.
New Work is a sense-making guide to organizational development.
If the individual’s sense of meaning is given space in decision-making, this has a tremendous impact on the organization and the employees’ productivity. With this mindset, challenges throughout the organization can be addressed right now:
- Finding and retaining the right employees
- Encourage self-organization and personal responsibility
- Empower efficient teams
- Encourage innovation and initiatives
- Changing pay and work time models
- Utilizing and redesigning office space to meet new requirements
Off-the-shelf solutions didn’t work before the Corona crisis and, in the past, made for expensive change projects with little impact on employee realities. In and after the current situation, these work even less, as the new realities in the environment and the employees must be considered. The awareness has arisen that the subsequent disruptive intervention in our economy can come at any time.
How Can the Company Start Together with the Executives and Employees?
Especially now, expensive and large-scale change offensives must be avoided. Not only is their chance of success low, but the costs also represent an enormous risk. However, this should not deter decision-makers in companies from tackling New Work. A good start can be lean and still allow all employees to get involved.
- Clear goals and motivation for New Work in the company must be defined.
- Employees must be asked about their attitudes across the board to create the starting point for successfully deriving measures.
- Use dialog between managers and employees on New Work for co-creation to integrate the knowledge and skills of as many people as possible.
- Test and evaluate measures before rolling them out across the board.
This way, you can get started without taking too much of an entrepreneurial risk while laying the foundation for a meaningful organization. Corona and the challenges that arise from it can thus be used as a starting point and opportunity for developing a New Work culture.
If you would like to know how we can help you get started, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.