Putting people at the center and sustainable changes in corporate culture. New Work is a term that has been around for a while, but there are also real-world examples that testify to the success of the model. We explain what can be learned from science and practice.
The pressure on companies and organizations has increased dramatically as a result of social changes and new market dynamics. New Work as a starting point for organizational transformation with people at the center is sometimes dismissed, sometimes praised as a savior. The connection between the goals in the many aspects of the introduction of New Work in companies and the strategy as well as economic goals and business model are insufficiently known so far. This requires clarification based on experience.
Explanatory approaches from science
Is our world now becoming more and more “complex” and “unplannable”, or has the speed of the necessary reaction to the permanently changing environment only increased? An exciting discussion, but currently without much nutritional value for the transforming companies or organizations. There is a growing awareness in companies that at least a thorough inventory or status report might be necessary to meet the requirements of the future. By now it is obvious that companies are responding to requirements such as: Climate neutrality, shortage of skilled workers, digitalization, organizational change, etc. can no longer be met only with the classic answers based on Tayloristic thinking.
New Work is about a new way of working and doing business in the future, which we can shape in the here and now with the means at our disposal. What this can mean has been shown to us by the pandemic as a catalyst for mobile working, for example. The infrastructure and already digitized processes have enabled business operations and continuity, while at the same time enabling employees to work from home to meet all the demands of their private lives, such as supporting their children with homeschooling. However, it is now clear that technology will not solve everything, and a corporate culture is needed to support this. Trend and youth researcher Simon Schnetzer is convinced that “trust” will be the megatopic of the future. Managers, but also employees, must find a new way of working together. In the permanent change demanded by the environment, the cultural basis on which trusting “remote” leadership is to be jointly shaped must be renegotiated. Everything depends on the attitude and mindset of all the players involved. In the future, they will determine how transparent and clear communication is and what it means for everyone to take personal responsibility, even beyond the boundaries of the company.
Corporate culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker 2009) – With this, the famous management teacher Peter Drucker directly establishes the connection between corporate success and focuses on people with their attitudes and mindset. Change is not possible without people and any strategy will fail if it does not succeed in bringing the employees along. Human-centeredness and sense-making are the outstanding drivers for change in organizations. From a business model perspective, motivated, inspired and responsible employees are the decisive factor the more the business model shifts towards service. They design and deliver on value propositions, provide value and are courteous, empathetic in customer encounters, in person and on all channels, creating delightful customer experiences. As a result, they have a decisive influence on the customer relationship. In the chain of success in service marketing, employee satisfaction comes first; this leads to customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to economic success. Positive feedback from customers reinforces the effect. This does not yet take into account positive side effects such as low staff turnover or a positive health rate, which also have a positive economic effect. Furthermore, there are positive aspects for the effect as an employer brand.
The TELE concept – which is not one.
Real Life Evidence – 10 Years of Practical Experience and Results from the TELE Concept
TELE Haase – a classic, medium-sized family business from Vienna with 90 employees, in-house electronics production and manufacturer of relays – began its revolution of the working world back in 2011. At that time, the idea was still completely new; there was hardly any orientation in the form of role models or literature. The first turbulent years of change provided the company with many beautiful, but also not so beautiful insights. It quickly became clear that the reorganization of a company is not a singular event, but a long-term process with no defined end. Change became permanent transformation. However, this constant further development requires a clear vision and must be supported by all employees. On this path, there are successes, but also resistance and disruptions. New challenges always demand changes in and from the system and often also new, adapted target images.
“New Work” can only work if everyone involved is courageously involved and mistakes are allowed. Setbacks are “quite normal”, because you are always entering new territory. TELE can be seen as one of the pioneers of “New Work”, because at the beginning of the 10’s there were hardly any role models. TELE developed its own “start-up organization model”, communicated openly, thus became authentic and thus a point of attraction for many other companies and “New Work” enthusiasts.
The most important principles that guide TELE are therefore not designed on the drawing board, but emerge gradually from experience, failures, experiments and successes. One learning is central to this: allowing and enduring profound changes is both a fruitful opportunity and a challenge.
The organism TELE is constantly changing. Theses that were valid yesterday will be refuted or confirmed by reality tomorrow. Every learning brings experiences with it. Every experience brings new assumptions, on the basis of which new decisions are made. The system is dynamic – change is not a linear process.
Self made experiences
Today, TELE can draw on its first real, self-made experiences:
- Personal responsibility for all – in all areas.
- Roles instead of functions.
- Leadership – in the sense of lived conviction and values.
- Joint decision-making and implementation in teams.
- Leadership – the best for the subject.
- Full transparency internally and externally.
- Employees at eye level with the desire to develop.
- Innovation through openness and cooperation.
Central to this: Resting on a status quo is no longer possible in the age of “New Work”. In a learning organism with constantly increasing organizational intelligence, proven processes are constantly being questioned and improved. When resistance arises, it is enormously important not just to let crises happen, but to actively shape them in order to emerge from them stronger together. Here, distributed leadership continues to be a central element in order to grow from difficult situations. The motto is: Don’t look for consensus, but live appreciative discourse every day.
From today’s point of view, TELE’s approach is not recommended to everyone, but a conscious and clear approach in advance can avoid many “painful experiences”.
Inspire, empower and accompany
Based on the experience of almost ten years of transformation, a unique ecosystem was created with The Organisation Playground Academy. The Playground, a cooperation between TELE and the largest university of applied sciences in Austria, offers companies and organizations the opportunity to successfully start their own transformation with its practical and scientific experience. Only those who honestly and openly decide to embark on this process of change will be able to cope with setbacks and have a great chance of being rewarded in the end. The Organization Playground Academy” supports you in the run-up to the practical implementation and thus increases your chances of creating a successful transformation process. Together with employees, we build the foundation of necessary knowledge, methodology and awareness on which the promise of “Create your own Organization” can then be delivered.