The development towards New Work models is not new in many industries, but the Corona pandemic has accelerated these processes. As a result, many companies have experienced a crisis-induced digitalization surge in the last two years. Building on this, many companies are asking themselves the fundamental question: how should future collaboration be structured if the pandemic no longer forces employees into the home office, but instead allows companies to decide for themselves what the balance between home office and office can look like.
The buzzword New Work alone does not do justice to the relevance and tasks of a post-Corona world. The transformation to New Work has to be defined from within the company’s own daily work routine and many challenges have to be considered. To take a look at the individual steps and formats of the New Work transformation for mechanical and analogue engineering in NRW, ProduktionNRW has offered a virtual event on this topic on 26 November 2021.
Understanding New Work as a holistic transformation
In a keynote speech, Stephan Rammelt, Managing Director at Deekeling Arndt/amo, outlined how a New Work transformation for mechanical and plant engineering can succeed. First of all, it should be noted that New Work is not a secure term. New Work can refer to the leadership in a company, the internal collaboration or the spatial design in the company. In order to implement the transformation in a targeted manner, three questions need to be considered:
- What does New Work mean for your own company?
- Where is the change based on this?
- How does the transformation for this change succeed?
Depending on how a company positions itself on these questions, different corporate functions such as human resources, communications and facility management must be integrated into the transformation process. In the complexity of the topic and the multitude of actors then lies above all the danger for the misperception of New Work, such as the narrowed view of a cost-saving program.
For the necessary transformation to New Work to succeed, a structured process is needed. The material level – such as new space concepts or regulations – and the cultural level – such as the introduction of new ways of working – should be told as a holistic transformation through a communicative level. Because if New Work is viewed holistically, there are enormous opportunities for cultural development but also for employer attractiveness.
In the subsequent discussion, it was emphasized above all that New Work is not clearly defined and that each company must find this out for itself. It would be easier at this point to have a clear catalogue of measures according to which New Work is to be applied. Also, many companies are currently in a state of upheaval: Many participants see new challenges in the development towards New Work, such as the loyalty of their own staff to the company and the team. At the same time, however, new applicants are demanding the advantages of New Work, such as fixed home office options.
Workshop: Sensitizing Managers through Persona Exercise
In the workshop that followed, Christopher O’Connor, Associate at Deekeling Arndt/amo, presented four personas. Personas are fictional characters that are intended, among other things, to sensitize managers to the expectations and fears of their own workforce. The personas portrayed differed primarily in their individual attitudes towards hybrid ways of working. The aim of the exercise was to identify appropriate communication with the personas portrayed.
In the persona group work, it became apparent that the characters with the portrayed expectations and fears encountered the group of participants in their own company. It is precisely the different attitudes to the topic that make it difficult to initiate a satisfactory transformation to New Work. With reference to the impulse lecture, an implementable model was presented for this purpose in order to involve the entire workforce in the transformation process.
The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is carried out by the VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).