New work: how our way of working is changing
reading time: ca. 5 minutes
- Self-determined, efficient and meaningful work: The vision of a new world of work.
- New Work expresses independence and freedom for employees. This includes, for example, flexible working hours and a free choice of work location.
- New Leadership, as a part of the working world 4.0, implies that companies break away from inflexible structures and hierarchical management styles.
- The aim is for companies to retain employees permanently, thereby increasing both productivity and innovative strength.
We want to work in a more self-determined and efficient way: Most preferably where, when and how we want. That sounds perfect to you - but how does New Work actually work? Many people are stressed out by their jobs and are exposed to high pressure. For this reason it's obvious that something has to change in the world of work.
Table football, being barefoot at work and smoothies for free - today's employees expect more from their employers. Yet "new" work isn’t new anymore. Many companies are already trying out new forms of work. Digitally connected work is standard now and companies want to keep their employees happy. However, the transformation of the new working world is still far from complete and there is a lot of room for improvement.
What is hidden within the term New Work?
The philosopher Frithjof Bergmann developed the concept of New Work in the 1970s. Back then, he negotiated with the employees of a car manufacturer that they could spend 50 percent of their working time doing the things they really wanted to do.
Previously, people were merely seen as a tool to get certain tasks done. This approach places humans in the spotlight. New Work expresses independence and freedom. For example, employees should be free to determine their working hours and location. There is no clear definition of New Work. However, there are four characteristics that make up a modern working world:
1. Working where and when you want
2. Free and dynamic structures
3. Flat hierarchies
4. Meaningful work
The New Work concept does not describe a standard solution - each company must discover its own path to work 4.0. This must be adapted to the specific needs and challenges of customers, products, employees and the entire work processes.
Changes due to the New Work megatrend
We are all professionals in Microsoft Teams or Zoom, which has certainly been strengthened in the last two years. Our work is constantly changing and the trends are accelerating. Stress on the job is no longer a rarity: a study by Techniker Krankenkasse (a german health insurance company) from March 2021 showed that every second person has more stress at work than before the Corona pandemic.
Above all, digital transformation is the big trend that companies want and need to keep up with. The ever-increasing digitization has transformed our society, fundamentally changed our working world and thus became one of the megatrends of recent years. Cross-location work is no longer a problem and employee networking is on the rise. As a result, our private lives are becoming increasingly blurred with our jobs.
Another development is New Leadership. This means that companies are breaking away from rigid structures and hierarchical management styles. New Leadership replaces all structures by a culture of trust and empathy. The task of managers is to promote the strengths of employees and enable them to take more responsibility for themselves. They are more like coaches than an instance of control.
This is what working at OVB looks like
The digital transformation has accompanied us strongly at OVB in recent years and brought with it several changes. Our meeting culture has turned 180 degrees and digital working has become part of our DNA. What is the effect? Our multilingual corporate structure and international collaboration are simplified by video meetings, minimizing the need for travel. Digital tools make it easier for teams to work together and create more personal responsibility.
People and personal contact among employees and with our customers are important to us. We have created all the necessary conditions to work digitally. On the other hand, we are also travel on site where necessary. For example, financial advice can take place flexibly online or offline. Personal contact has a high priority at OVB. We can be online and offline - and we make that possible for everyone.
OVB Leadership Academy, financial advice and events: At OVB, this is possible both digitally and on site. It is important to us to include all European countries. At the OVB Leadership Academy, for example, around 400 financial advisors meet digitally every month. We can provide financial advice to our clients online and have implemented electronic signatures in video advice for all OVB countries. Internal events take place as hybrid events. These include our Career Campus, which is used for networking and building one's own career, and our Power Day, in which all important topics are communicated to the sales team.
We want everyone to feel welcome in the company - because that's the only way to make work enjoyable long-term. At OVB, the focus is always on people. The self-realization and potential development of each individual is firmly anchored in our values. Your managers and your team will always be open minded for requests and we live flat hierarchies. Our workplaces are equipped with the latest technology to ensure that nothing goes wrong. We offer flexible working hours and the opportunity to work on a mobile basis. In addition to training, OVB offers numerous events and sports activities for all employees.
Beyond table football & Co. - How can employees benefit from New Work?
A new foosball table, Zoom meetings, training courses and colourful furniture - that’s not the only things that make New Work. The structural change in our working world must be filled with life from a content perspective. Companies must completely question themselves in order to build sustainable and digital structures. Mistakes can be made - and are expressly encouraged. We are only able to learn by one’s mistakes.
Only in this way can companies retain employees in the long term and thus increase productivity and innovative strength. Good employees are like gold, and it is a challenge for companies to retain them. If a company lives New Work, it becomes more attractive - win-win for both sides.
New, digital working methods make it easier for employees to perform their tasks and free up time for them to concentrate on the things that really matter. Many administrative tasks are eliminated. New room for flexibility is created.
The focus is on these benefits for employees:
- Modern technology
- Flexible working hours
- Flat hierarchies
- Agile working
- Cross-departmental teamwork
- More freedom and influence
- Transparent communication
- Balancing family and career
The topic of diversity is also taking on a new significance. Innovative ideas rarely come from a homogeneous mass. But our new working world urgently needs them. Diverse teams encourage this - they are more courageous because they bring in different perspectives and backgrounds.
Work-life blending, job sharing and other buzzwords
In the future, our work will be increasingly linked to our personal values and beliefs. The world of work 4.0 means that private and professional lives are increasingly merging. Work-life blending expresses exactly that. In this model, employees can make private phone calls during working hours or take advantage of health and leisure services at the office. This is intended to make work more flexible and productive.
Job sharing and agile methods, such as Scrum, Kanban or Design Thinking, are often associated with New Work. But participative organizational models, such as Holacracy, are also part of it. It is about transforming rigid work models into flexible processes.
This is how a modern workplace looks like
When we adapt the way we work, our environment has to change: Our workplace. It should offer plenty of space for creative but also concentrated work. Companies can thereby promote teamwork and self-determination.
Open and large meeting rooms with whiteboards, post-it's, colorful pens and everything it takes to work creatively are a must-have in modern office concepts. Yet working at a desk is almost oldschool - working at home, on the beach or in the mountains can be equally good. Mobile working in a home office is one way to strengthen employee satisfaction and their loyalty to the company.
Agile and creative spaces can also be found in co-working spaces, where different people can come together. In the office itself, desk sharing means that there are no longer any fixed workplaces, but that everyone is free to choose their own place. This means that flexibility and self-determination also rule the workplace. New Work offers companies enormous opportunities if it fits in with the corporate culture and is anchored there.