Real Insights into our New Work Approach

lesley rudolph

Lesley Rudolph

May 3, 2023 • 6 minutes read

We are not writing about this topic for the first time, and probably not the last: New Work, one of the most widely used buzzwords in the HR everyday life. Everyone talks about it, every company is confronted with it in some form, and by now, it is almost considered a prerequisite for a positive corporate culture.

New Work in der Praxis

But what quickly becomes clear: Opinions are strongly divided when it comes to the concept of New Work. Some don't want to get anything out of it and leave everything as it has always been. At the other extreme, there are those who engage in blind actionism by booking a bunch of seminars on topics such as design thinking and thinking this along can lead to a major change in corporate values.

As is so often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Because what works for one team doesn't necessarily work for all departments in the company. And of course, employees have different preferences for what their day-to-day should look like, depending on where they're coming from.

An overview

When we talk about New Work, we are primarily referring to the changed world of work that we have found ourselves in since covid. Home office, remote work, hybrid teams - all forms of work that have (inevitably) experienced a strong upswing since March 2021.

In an earlier article, we went into quite a lot of detail about where the term originates in the first place. Spoiler Alert: The origin is well before 2021. We have also dealt with the objectives, measures, advantages and disadvantages in this context.

New Work in best practice

We would like to give you a clear guideline to introduce New Work practices in your company. The safe bank that you can't go wrong with. But the only certainty we can give: The one-fits-all solution doesn't actually exist. Bummer.

Instead, it is important to take a close look at the current situation and the individual context. Is the current organizational structure flexible and open to promising new approaches? Are processes light on their feet or do they still tend to be hierarchical? Are there a sensible number of digital tools to make day-to-day work easier? Can critical questions be asked from all levels of the company?

These are just a handful of questions that you should ask yourself in this context. But what describes the essence of the New Work concept? We think: Questioning existing concepts and allowing change, living a shared vision, understanding new requirements and implementing them transparently. And in such a way that it makes sense for you - i.e. precisely for your starting position and industry, demographics and market development.

And then of course: this process of change is never complete, but rather translates into continuous optimization. Towards an employer brand that both existing and new talents like to associate themselves with. Towards a corporate culture that strives to be positioned in such a way that employees from a wide range of backgrounds feel at home. Towards a corporate success that can only be achieved with motivated and well-integrated employees.

Case study: Measures towards New Work

Let's say the medium-sized company "Blumenschön" is actively exploring new ways of working and wants to develop its structures and processes in line with new requirements and needs.

Specifically, the time clock may be abolished, home office may be implemented wherever possible and communication between departments may be simplified accordingly. We have prepared an exemplary 5-point plan for this.

1. Status quo analysis In the first step "Blumenschön" should have a deep dive into their current processes, hierarchical structures and management. How are decisions made, who is involved in the decision-making processes and how successful can projects meet their deadlines? Are employees motivated to reach their goals and do they feel like being a part of a clear vision that everyone is working towards? What might they miss in their day-to-day? And what do reports on sick leaves, vacation or turnover hint at?

2. Find out what is important to employees So much for the theory and the hard facts. Now it's about picking up on employees and, even more importantly, understanding individual preferences and open needs. Our tip: A digital tool for employee surveys will make your life a lot easier here.

Once the questions have been sent out, you can gain incredibly interesting insights into the various teams and departments. The evaluation of the survey lays an important foundation for the next step.

3. Develop different approaches for different priorities At this point, we know what structures currently exist and what employees want. The logical next step is to identify the highest common denominator. For example, the HR department may have noted that repetitive work processes take up the majority of their working time. At the same time, there are repeated problems with employees, who are unable to clock in on time.

The solution? Introducing a comprehensive HR software that offers a time recording feature that can be started and stopped from anywhere at the touch of a button on the relevant device. In addition, workflows ensure that HR managers can finally say goodbye to manual tasks and easily define responsibilities from within the system. Including a reminder feature, of course. And many more features that can be introduced one after the other.

4. Do test runs, identify challenges & find solutions Once a provider has been found, smaller teams should start by introducing the tool. This will quickly reveal where there are still open topics, what challenges need to be overcome and how existing processes can best be mapped.

5. Rollout across the company Once this first implementation step has been successfully completed, it can be rolled out company-wide. Important: Involve all employees in the process! This means that training measures are provided at the start of use and, ideally, a knowledge database on frequently asked questions is prepared and made available. A tool can solve challenges only, if users know how to make the most of it.

How we live New Work at HRlab

In theory, of course, we can come up with a bunch of ideas and design the scenarios in such a way that our solution is really conclusive. But we also want to provide practical relevance. And where do we have more insight than into our internal processes?

Of course, we no longer need to introduce HR software as in the example above. Thanks to our HR software, we are ideally equipped with regard to HR-related tasks and processes. One thing that sets us as a company apart and is appreciated by all our employees: We have a very hybrid way of working. Our colleagues are spread all over Germany, from Chemnitz to Hamburg to Passau.

We rely on a mix of measures to ensure transparent and efficient collaboration even when there is geographical separation:

  • Kanban boards for each department and team allow everyone involved to always be up to date on individual tasks. Responsibilities are assigned transparently and issues are recorded and resolved in real time on a topic-related basis.

  • Sprints are planned and set according to preference, allowing focused work based on priorities.

  • Thanks to our chat tool, you can also quickly exchange information. This means you don't always have to write an email or pick up the phone.

  • Regular virtual team and company meetings complement this setup perfectly.

  • An internal knowledge database is continuously being built up so that new team members have an easier start and there is a common understanding of tasks and work processes.

  • And: we meet in person once every three months. Either at the headquarters in Berlin, or sometimes for a trip. This gives us shared experiences despite working remotely - even outside of work.

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