This article was originally published as a guest article on the blog of Porsche Digital.
New Work, Work 4.0 or Future of Work currently seem to be the most hyped buzzwords in HR. You can find New Work in almost every headline of events, blogs and social media groups that target an audience interested in workforce and organizational issues. New Work attracts curious people from universities, start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as large companies. They gather to share their thoughts on outdated working methods and praise their views on how we should work nowadays or in the near future.
Five reasons why everybody talks about New Work
I’m not writing this in an unfavorable tone. But as a matter of fact, most people who start to talk about New Work in some way really don’t get the big picture of all the topic it covers. In other words, if you ask ten corporate HR managers about the possibilities and fields of actions that are related to New Work, you will get ten different answers. Interestingly, their underlying motivations to somehow change the way how employees work in their company are always consistent and contain either one or more of these goals:
- attract, engage and retain talent
- adapt to an increasingly connected environment and the demands of (younger) people that shape it
- enable quicker reactions to changes on the market and foster innovation
- reduce overhead and administrative tasks
- increase efficiency
Honestly, when the term New Work first came up to my attention a couple of years ago, I felt a little lost due to the great variety of subordinate aspects that deserve to be considered. Don’t worry if you might feel the same.
What is “New Work”?
If you are completely new to the topic, you may wonder where this buzzword comes from and what it actually means. The term New Work was coined by the social philosopher and author Frithjof Bergmann and describes a counter model to the classical capitalism. Bergmann defines self-reliance, freedom and participation in the community as values of New Work. This system of values and the established theses of Bergmann have been picked up and developed by other enthusiasts over the years. With globalization and the war for talent, the issue has become increasingly popular with employers. The term New Work can be seen today as a superordinate category of various approaches and models that serve to implement Bergmann’s original values.
25+ topics that make up New Work
Last year, two friends and I decided to found the New Work Berlin Meetup group with the aim to uncover everything that is related to New Work. Our mission is to help our growing community of enthusiasts to pick the best approaches that are already out there. Every month, we therefore invite experts who introduce a new topic that relates to changing working environments. Our guests openly discuss different views and own experiences, which leaves everybody with a new impression of what already works in different companies and what might be adopted or modified. Lots of them connect there to intensify the exchange afterwards, some even start their own event series with a focus on one special method.
We organized 17 different monthly meetups so far and count around 1.300 local members in Berlin. Below you will find a list that gives you an overview about all the topics that we’ve already covered or will talk about in the future. Please use it to get a feeling about the scope of New Work. If you want to go in-depth, I will gladly connect you to experts in every field.
New Work in a micro context:
So when you think about approaches that will change the way you work inside of a company, you should inform yourself about:
models promoting increased self-organization
- collaborative decision making
- collaborative innovation network
- learning organization
- growth mindset
- liberating structures
- the great game of business / open book management
- support of diversity
- feedback culture
- conflict culture
- new pay and alternative compensation
- job sharing
- competency and personality analysis
- work-life balance
- mental and physical health
- usage of artificial intelligence and robotics as supplement to humans
New Work in a macro context:
Our economic system and society have a large impact on the way we work together. Here are topics that relate to the big picture and are worth researching:
- conscious capitalism
- law, especially labour law e.g. when you want to make work hours more flexible, holidays or the workplace
- scientific research, e.g. about behavior
- basic income
- common wealth economics
This list does not claim to be complete and therefore is always subject to revision and addition. Probably, you will notice that some items relate to each other or overlap. This is not a coincidence as the pioneers, e.g. of organizational models, identified the same main issues and had the same goals in mind. Some built up on existing ideas, some developed a new approach from scratch. But I hope it is a great starting point for you to zoom into different aspects that might be relevant to you.
Now, click on the links I provided or start your search engine. Please feel free to add topics, pose comments or share your insights. And to all German readers, I highly recommend to download the New Work Map designed by my friends at AllesRoger, including definitions and more food for thought. This article can also be found in German right here.