Digital meets New Work – Digitization makes new ways of working possible
Digitization as fuel for a new kind of collaboration
Digitalization and Organization 4.0 are important drivers for the new way of working. Technology makes it possible to create new working models, but leadership and organizational development must also be ready for this.
Now digitalization as a buzzword is also reaching the way we work together. Whether it’s New Work 4.0, Leadership 4.0 seminars or titles like “On the Way to Organization 4.0,” these and similar terms are currently flooding all media outlets. But is there really anything behind them, or are we once again just unthinkingly attaching the number combination 4.0 to terms that couldn’t run away fast enough?
Undisputedly, digital transformation is on everyone’s lips, but mostly only from the perspective of technicians, IT, processes or as a threat scenario in which studies outbid each other in terms of who predicts the most job losses. Even the term “jobs disappearing” says a lot about the depth of such a study. Activities will certainly be eliminated, but jobs? The job associated with an activity that will be eliminated certainly has little chance of survival, but other activities will be needed to create new jobs.
However, digital transformation is hardly ever discussed from the perspective of “leadership and organizational development. Yet this is where the most serious cuts for managers and employees are to be expected.
A further increase in flexibility, higher information density and diversity must also be mastered by the respective personnel. Distributed work nevertheless presupposes the team concept, which, however, will no longer be a matter of course in virtual teams. In addition to the physical distance, executives are confronted with further information elements, e.g., from social networks, search engine alerts, and chat bots, which make it more difficult to distribute information well within the team – separate from “fake news” (formerly: rumors).
Leadership must face up to this if it wants to continue to be effective.
Digitization makes New Work possible
The requirements for the New Work are only becoming more rounded and feasible through digitization and the associated possibilities. Any time, any place and any device don’t work if I don’t have a network, the WLAN doesn’t work again or the company’s guidelines dictate which hardware and software I have to work with. The blending of work and life can only succeed if there is a seamless transition. On the one hand, this requires a technical as well as a corporate cultural transition.
Today’s professionals no longer want to spend more than 30 years working, only to finally – in retirement – be able to live. Combining the two is what is needed here. This means smooth transitions, no time recording, no clear separation – in both directions. There are no problems working on the project on the weekend, just like meeting with friends on a Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the park to “chill”. The goal is on the one hand to get the work done (whenever) and on the other hand to enjoy the pleasures of life when you feel like it.
Anytime online – share everything
We live in chatty times. The current means of communication make it possible. We can get in touch with almost anyone on this globe at any time – and we do. Everyday problems are quickly posted online in the hope that someone will help. It is also not important to know the “interlocutor” personally. After all, he (or she) is a friend on Facebook or has an incredible number of “likes,” and is therefore beyond any doubt.
Leadership here means addressing and explaining issues of confidentiality. Not every problem is open to public discussion. Development projects are characterized by trial and error, failure, continuation, and so on. Discussing every current status in public is not advisable for many business cases. Being permanently online, being able to share information almost in real time, and this to unlimited addressees, also entails dangers that can become conflicts. It is no longer possible to analyze and evaluate these events at the same speed. The time that we humans would need for this is already used by counter-comments, replies, forwardings. Thus, this information takes on a life of its own, which can lead to misunderstanding or even untruths. Shitstorm is then only a “response” to this. In order to prevent serious conflicts from arising from these phenomena in companies, intervention in the form of clarification, mediation and moderation is necessary. Whatsapp, Posts, Like’s and Unlike’s have the characteristic of being “set in stone”.
Sharing, participation, cooperation and collaboration
These are not just the new buzzwords; behind them lies a new attitude to life and a new mindset. It’s not just the car that’s being shared more and more often, but also success and the approach to solving problems. Recently, nothing spreads as much joy as a jointly achieved goal. But in order to share a car, for example, “digitization” must create the possibilities. Where is the vehicle located, who uses it, is it reserved. How to open, reserve, drop off, etc. is all handled by an app. Here, too, “digitization” provides the opportunities for new behavior. The same applies to day-to-day working life with its manifold issues.
Can’t solve a problem in a team? No problem, there is certainly a forum where you can ask questions about it. There, many people are willing to help and give hints – unknown people! But that does not matter. It is simply assumed that no dishonest intentions are present, the tip or hint is meant seriously and given to the best of one’s knowledge and belief. The pacesetter in this approach is the Internet with its manifold possibilities to access resources, opinions, hints and feedback worldwide at any time. This changes leadership in the direction of persuasion, advertising, empathic understanding, and joint struggle for common success. This demands cross-company thinking and the courage to allow communication outside of one’s own company boundaries.
Now these two terms do have something to do with each other. One is the driver of the other. Many topics of the New Way to Collaborate cannot be implemented in the analog world. The technical and cultural possibilities are needed. But it also needs clear rules and guard rails. It also needs a critical approach to the new possibilities. Not every “friend” in the social networks is a friend who is willing to discuss problems from his or her own field of activity too openly. However, it is also very clear that the train is now moving quite fast and cannot be stopped.
Here are a few more links that shed light on the topic:
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