Here are the results of the latest New Work Barometer survey
How do we want to work? And how should our work be organised? We asked a selection of recent job starters these questions in our study looking at workplace design for Generation Z at the end of 2019. At that moment a turning point was starting to emerge very imperceptibly, with people hoping for more time and place flexibility, more project team collaboration and a work approach that’s more agile but not necessarily less hierarchical – that was the basic message.
And now, two years later and after a huge hiatus in the form of the pandemic: where are we with flexible working days, flat hierarchies and more self-accountability? The visions of the New Work movement have become more tangible in recent months. However, small and medium-sized businesses are embracing New Work more systematically than larger organisations, according to the New Work Barometer – which was recently created by SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Personalmagazin and Commax Consulting.
Who is practising New Work models – and where?
On 23rd May 2021, Frithjof Bergmann passed away in the USA at the age of 90. The philosopher coined the term New Work and popularised the idea of a more flexible approach to working based on principles like freedom, self-accountability, intention, development and social responsibility, as well as an understanding of psychological empowerment. In Germany his ideas fell on fertile ground, and changed the way we look at work.
New Work = home office? Not quite!
The most important new feature in recent months has been more autonomy at work. But that’s only a partial aspect of transformation in the workplace. The following New Work models are increasingly being implemented in both large and small companies:
- Empowerment-oriented leadership that’s committed to employee development
- Autonomous working hours
- Agile management
- Agile project work
- Flattening of hierarchies
- Mosaic careers, in other words switching between functions and roles
- Provision of mobile technology
- Job sharing
- Open office concepts
It’s interesting to note that the understanding of New Work is near enough identical in both small and large companies, although in practice – i.e. with regard to the measures put in place – things do look rather different.
Small and medium-sized companies tend to favour these strategies
a democratic constitution
flattening of hierarchies
New Work Tools in large companies
agile project work
provision of mobile technologies
BarCamps, meetings with open workshops
employee suggestion schemes
hackathons, i.e. collaborative events for development of software and hardware
job enrichment, broadening of roles through appropriate professional development
In small and medium-sized firms employing up to around 1000, an average of 7.54 of these measures are being implemented according to our survey, while the figure is higher by 1.5 measures for large companies. It is noticeable that tools and methods involving a more significant level of democratisation within the corporate structure are more frequently applied in small companies. The power relations are altered in favour of employees as a result of flat hierarchies and a democratic constitution, while management practices and resource handling often stay the same in large companies.
Transformation to suit the corporate culture
The speed at which changes take effect in organisations is often a question of size as well: small-scale changes can be implemented faster than large ones – and in small companies a radical transformation can be achieved more quickly.
As an office outfitter that supports customers throughout the office design process, we frequently see that organisational developments go hand in hand with spatial ones – and that redesigning the office environment has an impact on how employees behave and what they experience.
For this reason we like to use target visions when we work with partners and customers: what aspects of your work culture would you like to change? Which of your strengths would you like to carry on using – and where does the focus lie less? After all the goal is not to achieve an open office concept, agile project work or a shared workspace for the sake of it – the point is to make your company more successful, more motivating for your workforce and more attractive to prospective job applicants.
In this feature we used the following articles as reference sources:
Schermuly, Prof. Dr. Carsten C., KMU setzen New Work tiefgreifender um als Großunternehmen (SME implement New Work more radically than large companies), 02.09.2021 New-Work-Barometer 2021, SRH Hochschule Berlin https://www.haufe.de/personal/hr-management/vergleich-verstaendnis-von-new-work-in-kmu-und-grossbetrieben_80_550482.html, last accessed 06.10.2021
Schermuly, Prof. Dr. Carsten C. New Work im Krisenmodus (New Work in crisis mode), 17.08.2021, New-Work-Barometer, https://www.haufe.de/personal/zeitschrift/personalmagazin/personalmagazin-ausgabe-92021-personalmagazin/new-work-barometer-auswirkungen-von-corona-auf-new-work-549346.html, last accessed: 06.10.2021
CHANGE. VALUES. FUTURE. A STUDY ON WORKSPACE DESIGN FOR GENERATION Z. The impact on employee satisfaction and employer attractiveness. Published by König + Neurath AG. Conducted and performed by the Handelsblatt Research Institute. October 2021
Hornung, Stefanie, New Work is not without side effects, News 16.04.2021 New Work Barometer survey 2021, https://www.haufe.de/personal/hr-management/new-work-barometer-interview-mit-studienleiter-schermuly_80_541232.html, last accessed: 06.10.2021