New work is not old work in the home office. The author encourages step-by-step development of the mindset and possibilities of New Work with small experiments.
It’s now been a few weeks since the start of the lockdown. We have become accustomed to home offices, teleconferences and the like. But in most cases, this doesn’t have much to do with “New Work”. I therefore encourage companies for small experiments, so that a new mindset can establish itself.
The majority operates “old work” in remote mode
At the beginning of the lockdown phase, I thought that managers and employees would finally be able to concentrate on the content of their work, since they would no longer have to kill their time in meetings that were not very productive and deal with endless coordination emails. We know that up to 85% of the working time can be spent exclusively on internal coordination, without any added value for the customer.
But you thought wrong. In many cases, meetings have simply been replaced by calls. I often hear that people hang around in calls for six hours or more a day. It seems that many managers are fighting against their own decrepitude and therefore set up one call after the other, thus keeping their employees from working on content.
This has nothing to do with “New Work”. At least as I understand New Work. In most cases, the mode of the old work – the mode of delegating, coordinating, controlling – is simply transferred to remote and digital. Remote working often lacks the mindset of the new work: namely, that employees are responsible beings who want to work and are capable of organizing themselves. The role of managers with real leadership, remote or not, is to empower employees to do things themselves, in other words, to strengthen their self-leadership.
Some get it
Fortunately, there are also many positive examples. Companies that have made it their goal, even before the exceptional situation, to ensure that their employees are satisfied and can work effectively. Many of these companies are realizing, especially at the present time, how great the value, including the monetary value, of trust and enabling is. Then, only the most important coordination is needed and the employees often complete the tasks in half the time it would otherwise take them. The time gained can be used for small innovations or simply for family and personal health. The bottom line is that everyone is happy.
Try small experiments
So how can a company that is in occupational therapy mode by calls become a successful “New Work” company step by step?
Carpe Diem! Seize the day and the opportunity. I advise every team and company to simply start with small experiments that enable new experiences and learning without having to immediately turn the company and its habits upside down. This can be, for example, the code of making only half and absolutely necessary team calls during a week. Or “silent work” for everyone during three hours in which no one is interrupted. Be creative or just ask your employees what ideas they have. And important: make your joint learning visible. This will motivate you to keep at it.
In this spirit, I wish you exciting experiments. May our lockdown time not only be bearable, but also enjoyable.