Digitalisation - a curse or blessing for corporate culture

Data now great commodity, but of little use without skilled workforce
20 May 2022
Idea Lab 2022

The advantages of remote working beg the question of whether offices are actually needed post pandemic. Time and resources are saved and office space could be converted into urgently needed housing. On top of that, remote working often leads to greater productivity. Time is no longer lost chatting to colleagues at the coffee machine. However, that is the crux of the problem. Speaking at the first Idea Lab held in May under the theme of "Digital Identity in a Human World" in HafenCity, Malin Augustin, Team Lead Employer Branding in the German-speaking region (DACH) at New Work SE, said: "People need personal proximity and social exchange." The social intranet provider, Haiilo (formerly Coyo), and the tech start-up Nect were among three hosts of the lab. Augustin outlined what makes an employer and a working environment attractive as both are key to hiring and retaining employees.


Task forces for employee satisfaction

When New Work SE moved into its new headquarters called the New Work Harbour in August 2021, the company wanted to create one of the most attractive working environments in Germany. "For us, it was about creating the best of both worlds or an office home." To achieve that, around 900 employees were involved from the start and communicated using digital elements such as infotainment, edutainment and gamification. This has resulted in a multi-space concept that facilitates collaboration, creativity and concentration in the workplace. Employees were also surveyed about what they would like to see in addition to their actual work environment. "We have formed task forces on topics such as fitness or canteen facilities. And we have developed our own dog policy. The strategy has worked. It feels like the masses are back. I now have to queue up again in the canteen," said Augustin.



Malin Augustin, Team Lead Employer Branding in German-speaking region at New Work SE
© Yvonne Scheller
Malin Augustin, Team Lead Employer Branding DACH bei New Work SE
Mela Chu at Idea Lab 2022
© Yvonne Scheller
Mela Chu, digital humanist and founder of BLCKSWN

Addictive digital worlds 

Corporate culture is crucial to a company's attractiveness, according to Mela Chu, founder of the Cologne-based innovation consultancy BLCKSWN. A self-confessed digital humanist, Chu has called for an ethical corporate culture in the digital jungle. "Our world is characterized by VUKA i.e., volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambivalence. VUKA has been exacerbated by the pandemic and war in Ukraine. An uncomfortable reality reinforces the lure of the digital world. "Social networks like Instagram can be addictive, not to mention Tik Tok. And anyone can build their dream existence in the metaverse. The possibilities are endless and people can design their own avatars to achieve their personal goals." But is that really desirable? Individuality, even diversity, falls by the wayside in digital worlds, she noted. "Algorithms follow trends, not edges." People want to be loved and recognized, and that increases the risk of conforming to the mainstream. So more digitization is both a curse and a blessing. Users should cultivate a sensitive approach to digital tools, and corporate culture should take employees' needs into account, especially when it comes to digital innovation, Chu urged.   


Shaping the digital future - made in Hamburg

However, companies are probably examining what makes potential employees happy especially as every second firm in Germany has problems recruiting staff, a recent Xing study found. Given this backdrop, employee retention is gaining importance. Haiilo's digital platform is offering solutions for an improved working world. In February, the Hamburg-based software company Coyo, the Finnish company Smarp and the French company Jubiwee joined forces to form Haiilo. The merger has resulted in one of the world's largest providers of social intranets with plenty of employee communication and commitment. More than 750 customers worldwide use the applications Haiilo Home, Haiilo Share, Haiilo Stories and Haiilo Insights to boost their corporate culture. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology for digital collaboration. However, good internal communication is also essential for employee satisfaction. Nect also offers a more secure digital world. The Hamburg-based start-up is now aiming to lead the AI-based trust services market after winning the Hamburg Founder's Prize in 2020 for its identity verification app based on the so-called Robo-Ident process.