Buzzword “New Work”: No newfangled stuff from the internet!

Recently, I have suddenly become part of a movement. It’s called “New Work” and everyone seems to know what it means. But what is behind the hype? And what is the trend at the core? Is it more than home office and free fruit?

I’m sitting in a coworking space on one of those chic, massive leather sofas. Around me are more designer furniture in vintage look and some sliding desks. Some are busy, one or the other coworker I know.

In front of me is a latte macchiato with normal milk, while I – the laptop parked on my lap – listen to the sounds of my favorite channel on YouTube.

I have been here since 7 o’clock. No later than 4 pm it’s time to go home: with the little boy to the playground, dinner, brushing his teeth and off to bed. Not for me. One or the other mail still wants to be answered.

A few months ago, I deliberately decided to start my own business. For one, because after almost ten years as an employee in more or less classic corporate structures, I finally want to do things the way I think is right.

On the other hand, to be able to flexibly divide up and down the time for my small family on the one hand and my professional projects on the other. An employee relationship in the classical sense does not fit my life situation right now.

⚽ + 🍌🍌 = New Work?

All this is possible because I earn my income with activities that require nothing more than a laptop. A privilege that I appreciate. In addition, I am an example of how digitalisation has transformed the way we work in a profound way and at a hell of a pace.

The philosopher Frithjof Bergman already addressed this development in the seventies and founded the term “New Work”. Today, New Work is a real buzzword that falls reflexively when in an office there is a kicker in the hallway or a bowl of two bananas on the table.

The fact that the issue is discussed very controversially, is also because the term is difficult to break down to a clear definition. Also, because technological developments are progressing without a break – and thus the requirements for work are constantly changing.

Most of all, because New Work has countless dimensions. These range from free time management as a freelancer, through the home office for all employees, to the gradual return after parental leave. And these are just the classics among the examples of New Work in the implementation.

The bigger idea behind it

In fact, the idea behind New Work is much bigger. It goes way beyond place, time, foosball table and fruit bowl. Traces of New Work can already be found in recruiting. Thereby a majority of the processes take place only digitally.

New forms of work are also reflected in the office and work spaces, which are increasingly open. And they finally reach the project level. There, agile tools should increase efficiency and teams should work together more and more interdisciplinary.

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Even former taboo subjects in the workplace, such as mindfulness or the much-praised work-life balance, are increasingly the subject of the New Work discourse. It is true that by far not all employers have recognized the need for such offers.

But one hears more and more of company-owned sports initiatives or the gym membership as an employee benefit. There are even companies that open a location at the other end of the world to give their team members a few working days in the sun during the winter.

Countless facets, a foundation

As different as the characteristics of New Work may be, so uniform is the foundation on which they are based. After all, without principles such as personal responsibility, mutual trust or self-organization, none of the mentioned scenarios would be feasible in practice.

For example, anyone who understands the home office as a bonus holiday day not only shoots into his professional foothold in the long term, but also tramples on the core idea of the movement.

That’s how you pour water on the mills of those who think New Work is new-fang stuff or a spinner on the Internet. New Work is not exactly that. It is not a trend that will eventually pass again.

New work concepts are long overdue

It is a fact that our everyday lives, both private and professional, are becoming more and more digital in the future. And the increasing acceptance of new work concepts is thus a long overdue development.

For me personally – and representative of many in my professional environment – New Work is also the only real way to realize both professionally and privately. Without compromise. How I manage this – or not – I would like to report in my column.

If you are interested in the different facets of New Work and the individual motives behind the implementation of the concept, then I would like to conclude with the podcast “On the Way to New Work” by Michael Trautmann and Christoph Magnussen.

Each week, the two digital entrepreneurs have another exciting personality to share their experiences in and with our new world of work. Among others: Frithjof Bergman, the “Godfather of New Work”, in an episode that will be remembered.

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