New Work: How the future generation works

Reading time: 7 Minuten

Table of contents

The digitization of our processes relieves us of many tasks in our day-to-day work. The work at hand no longer needs people the way it did a decade ago. In the digital age, computers perform many tasks even better, more accurately and more efficiently than humans themselves. This fact is increasingly leading us to rethink the subject of work; to question the meaning. What do we need the work for if it no longer needs us? How can we use our potential to the full and do meaningful work? – That’s what New Work is all about.

No hierarchies, more freedom for personal development, home office and flexible structures – this is what the way of working of the future looks like. For some years now, our working world has been undergoing a real cultural change. Under terms such as Arbeitswelt 4.0 or New Work, rigid processes and hierarchies are to be radically abolished in order to create more space for innovation and creativity. In order not to be left behind in this transformation of the world of work, companies and above all managers must question and dissolve old structures and rethink “work” as a whole.

But can leadership work without hierarchy? And if so, how?

New Work: An Introduction

When you think of New Work, do you think of beanbags in the conference room or executives in T-shirts and sneakers? Well, you’re not that wrong. But the new work culture means more than just a hip office. Thus, the new work trend follows principles such as independence, freedom and participation of a community. The familiar top-down organization (manager delegates, employee executes) is completely relegated to the background. It is about participation, self-determination and communication at eye level.

New Work is no longer about simply completing tasks according to a schedule and time clock. It’s about doing something meaningful. The work should be fun and one’s own potential should be fully exploited. For this to be realized, the following framework conditions are essential:

    • Simple, short decision paths
    • Flexible, project-based work with short-term goals
    • Flat to no hierarchies
    • Fewer routine tasks
    • Personal and spatial freedom

New Work vs. Old Work

As the marketing manager of a start-up, flat hierarchies and flexible working hours are completely normal for me. Our team consists of 15 innovation-driven employees, each with their own area of responsibility. I love the self-organized and largely autonomous work because it gives me an incredible amount of freedom and room to maneuver. But it also means a lot of responsibility. Finding new solutions and deciding things on my own always presents me and my creativity with meaningful challenges that remind me to never stand still.

I experienced the complete opposite of the freedom-loving start-up mentality in a medium-sized corporate company. Clear structures, time clock work, hierarchies and routine work processes have shaped everyday working life. Even though this was certainly comfortable, because having to bear little responsibility is comfortable, after a certain point it no longer challenged me intellectually. I needed fresh air and the feeling of doing something meaningful for me. Which brings us back to the basic idea of New Work.

New Work Needs New Leadership

More coaching and less announcements is the motto.
In order for New Work to be successfully established in our everyday working lives and old structures to be abolished, we must also rethink leadership. Behind the New Work concept is the justified assumption that old-work leadership models no longer have the desired effect in an increasingly digitalized working world. So if you want to say goodbye to old structures, you also have to say goodbye to the old management style. But how does leadership work without hierarchy?

We have a few tips for you:

1) More coaching, less announcement

Managers have long since ceased to be the sole decision-makers, but rather act as coaches, mentors or sparring partners who are always on hand to advise the team. They do not simply delegate tasks, but motivate and inspire their team. Being authentic, admitting weaknesses and instilling trust – these are all principles of New Leadership. The trick here is to still know about the things employees are working on. This is achieved by mapping work processes transparently.

2) Promote communication at eye level

Managers who feel comfortable and secure in their top-down model as sole decision-makers must now be very strong. After all, communication at eye level is a central principle of New Leadership. This means that the manager of tomorrow will no longer be merely a person giving orders, but will give his team the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. Trust, authenticity and the chance to make mistakes are key principles here.

3) Mistakes as an opportunity for further development

If you can’t make mistakes, you want to work according to a precise timetable. And those who work according to a precise timetable are not creative. For New Work to work, an atmosphere must be created that allows mistakes and perceives them as an opportunity for further development. Even managers are not infallible. They can set a good example by admitting mistakes and developing strategies together to avoid them in the future.

4) Promote employee potential and deploy it in a targeted manner

The greatest potential of any company is undoubtedly its employees. That’s why managers must identify, nurture and leverage the strengths of each team member by assigning them appropriate projects. Employees who feel that their strengths are seen and can use them profitably are motivated. If they succeed in this, the leaders of tomorrow will influence the success of projects like no one else.

5) A good word is never given away

Very important, but often underestimated: praise. Nothing is more motivating than a good word about employees’ work. This is not to say that mistakes should never be communicated; after all, as we now know, they are important to the team’s continued development. However, the way we talk about “missteps” needs to change fundamentally. It must be conveyed that making a decision is better than making no decision at all

It does not work completely without structure

Flexible working hours, home office, vacation at your own discretion – sounds great at first, doesn’t it? However, to ensure that New Work does not result in unproductive chaos, the structural change must be prepared accordingly. This means that it does not run completely without structure. Because very good organization and, above all, self-organization are mandatory for the new world of work. For employees to let go of old structures and establish new ones, they need one thing: time.

That’s why one thing is certain: New structures can’t simply be installed like an app. Making creative autonomy work takes organization, time, patience, and some common sense. ;)

You might also be interested in

Photographer shows marketing expert photos on tablet - symbolic image professional image management for companies