Six theses on future of work
Six theses on the future of work ranging from corporate culture to the office of tomorrow emerged during the New Work Experience (NWX) conference, held by the Hamburg-based New Work SE and operator of the Xing career network in April. Delegates included pioneers and practitioners of New Work and the theses derived come amid ongoing turmoil and cultural changes caused by the pandemic. But what are the most important and sustainable changes? Is New Work the new norm and what models of work and leadership are needed at present?
#1 No room for toxic corporate culture
More and more people are taking stock and asking existential questions about priorities and the most valuable aspects of working life. The answers amount to a conscious change of corporate culture. Companies should live up their promises and rethink their mission. This change will initially lead to chaos and creativity, but above all to changes in behavioural patterns within the company resulting in new corporate culture that stands for trust, participation and compassion.
#2 Magic leadership
The future of work calls for leaders who build real relationships, foster cohesion, build trust and encourage interaction. Simply navigating day-to-day operations is not enough. "We need leadership similar to that of magician or a voodoo priest...someone who can reshape the storyline," said Jitske Kramer, a Dutch anthropologist. Such "campfire conversations" can reshape the world and organizations.
#3 Form gangs - self-realisation and community in harmony
The idea of work as self-fulfillment has evolved in the pandemic. Hardly anything strengthens people more than the feeling of belonging to something bigger than oneself - a gang or group, according to Dr. Jan Kalbitzer, psychiatrist and stress expert. Individual self-realisation within a larger community has an impact on the company, he noted, as the company is increasingly expected to take a position - both on what is socially significant and on social change per se.
#4 Diversity not the exception - dealing with diversity
Diversity has a positive impact on a company's success. Clearly, different perspectives improve the understanding of diverse customers and help perform different tasks in the best possible manner. Strong teams are shaped according to various individual strengths, are open to diversity, ready for change and focus on good relationships and interaction. Diversity becomes the rule.
#5 Flexibility - from benefit to new standard
Work is independent of place and time and at the latest since the beginning of the pandemic. The decision on where and with whom to work is increasingly up to the employees. Kramer noted: "It won't stay as it is now, and it won't become the way it was. No one will remain stuck in traffic jams for two hours anymore and then read their emails in the office." Now, it is up to companies to create shared experiences worth remembering to nourish the feeling of togetherness. Moreover, flexibility has brought about a more humane working world and shown that work not time should be rewarded. The new, standard flexibility means far more than remote working.
#6 Long live the office
The office is alive and gaining a new meaning. It is becoming a meeting place as well as a generator of culture and identity. Petra von Strombeck, CEO of New Work SE, believes: "We need meeting places, we need shared experiences to live and maintain a corporate culture." The office of the future is being rethought - noisy and quiet zones are being created as well as spaces for group interaction and one-on-one conversations.