Modern forms of collabo-ration and cooperation
Promising future, which requires a major transformation
No matter where you are, the topic of how to work today and in the future is central and everywhere. Scientists are researching it, politicians are trying to create the platform and framework conditions for the organizations, and the economy is trying to change its structures with models.
Many questions about the potential impact of the interconnected, fast-paced, and increasingly complex world on people and organizations cannot yet be answered.
A joint journey of discovery is mandatory
What is clearly emerging is that:
Digitization and technological change, which already began before the turn of the millennium, can be described as probably the greatest (r)evolutionary development, next to the invention of the steam engine.
Impacts affect private and business life immensely. The consequences of this are new services and thus behavior, such as the electronic counter at public authorities and administration, but of course also e-banking or paperless media consumption, to name just a few examples that show how we humans are driving change and moving within it.
Automation will make many routine tasks redundant and thus inevitably change the world of work. This creates winners and losers, unless we are able to keep up with the effects of the (r)evolutionary changes.
The value of knowledge as a resource has grown significantly and is probably already the most significant resource today. If we used to speak of industrial laborers, today it is knowledge workforces that make up the potential for success or failure through effective and efficient collaboration.
Culture (how we deal with things and innovations and how we do what) is in the end the factor that significantly determines success and demise. Our history has shown several times why cultures are/were successful and why they perished.
Derived from this, a key question is: "How do I/we deal with change in our personal and professional lives?"
On a private level, for example, we decide whether and how to use a smartphone and when to get a new one. Change is natural and present for us. But how do we deal with it in relation to our work? Do we seek and want change in terms of:
Job description, function, location...
Forms of local, virtual… collaboration in teams.
Working models such as job sharing, part-time, home office…
These aspects of change seem to be much more challenging than expected. New Work, FlexWork and Smart Work are terms that often lead to confusion rather than clarity. People like confusion conditionally, even though confusion holds the potential of searching for answers, which in turn represents the power of innovation and creativity.
What really matters
Work Smart includes many things! Important aspects are:
The working environment (flexibility in terms of working hours, location, models...)
The working tools (variety in terms of tools, methods, technologies...)
The working behavior (initiative regarding roles/tasks, responsibilities, competencies...)
Many employees and managers are skeptical of modern ways of working because they are not communicated in the way recipients need. Explanations are lacking for:
Why the change in the working form of e.g. multispace is aimed at?
Who defines the goals?
What resources are available for this purpose?
How is the collaboration designed?
What the consequences of this are?
The people affected therefore look for explanations on their own and often these result in rejection because they are confusing in the end, but the person seeks clarity because this provides security, even if this is negative for the person. Mostly, employees and managers are affected by the change (e.g., modern forms of work), which are designed by others. This creates not participants, but affected persons, who react to it with resistance*. It is not uncommon that fears, anxieties, reservations... of those affected are ignored because they are not understood in their value.
* Resistance based on reactance: Is the motive to restore a blocked freedom (freedom of action/choice).
The FlexWork Phase Model 2.0 of the Work Smart Initiative Switzerland
Goals that can be achieved by means of modern forms of work
The goal of any new form of work, such as New Work & FlexWork → Work Smart, is to maintain performance and experience a higher quality of life alongside it, or to increase performance while maintaining the same quality of life, or to increase performance and enhance the quality of life.
The important thing is to realize that everyone can win, as long as it is designed correctly.
What is important to us?
According to various studies, today's employees and managers can be described by the following characteristics:
Seek clear structures and frame works at work and between work and private life, see no boundaries between virtual and real, want to develop freely, which also leads to uncertainty and trial and error, are aware of uncertainty.
Work has a high significance, are liberal, successful, team, and career oriented, maintain a structured work style, health, idealism, and creativity as well as deceleration are important.
Skilled team players work offline and in the virtual world, are excellent networkers, want to self-actualize, merge work and personal life.
Well educated, ambitious, individualistic, ambitious and looking for purpose, like independence and individualism, grew up with technology.
The consequence of this diversity is that traditional organizational models are under pressure.
The generation "conflict" must be resolved in a work environment.
Organizations cannot avoid rethinking their processes and working models to meet the diverse and sometimes divergent needs of customers and employees. The reasons are various, such as:
Technological change such as digitalization or AI (artificial intelligence) with the resulting overflow of information...
Geopolitical developments such as isolation, local armed conflicts with global effects such as currency risks, artificial scarcity and thus increasing cost of resources...
New business models such as biotech or fintech, connecting and involving suppliers and customers in the design and development as well as production and delivery process... to make innovation risks calculable... and to defuse the war for talent by making it easier to attract and retain talent.
Provide opportunities for employees to create a more balanced work/life balance, to enable new leisure behaviors such as childcare by fathers via e.g., paternity leave, part-time work, job sharing, etc., and to generally socialize and challenge themselves digitally and analogously.
Hope at the end of the tunnel
Current studies (e.g. University of St. Gallen - HSG) show that around 25% of organizations in German-speaking countries are dealing with modern forms of work or have taken the step towards New Work.
Of the 25%, a quarter of the organizations have successfully managed to implement new work collaboration methods and are more successful as a result.
Three-quarters of organizations are in a worse position than before the planned change to New Work. The reasons for this are numerous. The main criteria are:
Expectations unrealistic = too much in too little time.
Excessive demands = employees and managers, in the end the entire organization was overestimated in terms of its resources and its ability to change or was not consulted and supported.
Framework and clear rules based on common values and behaviors have not been developed.
Leaders as the critical population, were not developed into role models and Ambassadors were not engaged.
Many managers still find it difficult, for example, to replace the belief that presence automatically means performance and not being present automatically means no performance.
The simple question; "Where (space, time and activity) do you have ideas for finding solutions to challenges?" indicates that the environment stimulates or reduces.
It is important to understand that employees do not necessarily want to take on more responsibility if they have not been given any autonomy to act for years but have always been told that they are responsible for their results. Why would employees now want to make decisions under Work Smart that were previously, and possibly still are, made for them? Previously, they could claim that they were only following instructions and therefore not responsible for the results. A pleasant situation in itself but also a dangerous one. Why expose yourself to (un)necessary risk?
In addition, many organizations still have a "zero failure" attitude, which suppresses a central element of learning. Actual learning happens in the application of information that one has acquired, for example, in a training. People learn from failures, among other things.
If such a culture is not built up and lived, employees and leaders will find it difficult to innovate and be creative, as this always requires a willingness to take risks. If failures are punished and guilty parties are targeted, employees and managers will find it difficult to become actively involved in the design of Smart Work, as this demands change and change is always risky.
Insufficiently planned, supported, and implemented development and thus change processes in the context of the transformation in the workplace have the consequence that there are losers and winners. This is because clear deficiencies are identified in the areas of:
The lack of intrinsic motivation that feeds curiosity can not be developed.
An affected person (*reactance/resistance) cannot develop the same motivation to change him-/herself,
(„You must become the change you want to see in the world.“ - Mahatma Gandhi)
as an invited and involved person can, who recognizes that s/he can change the environment and that the environment thus partially adapts to her/him. On this basis, s/he can develop her/his willingness to change and adapt to the environment.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Development and thus changes, which are planned on a strategic level, must never forget, the implementation happens on the operational level and thus in the lived culture, which enables or prevents success. If the organizational culture as a central element is not included in the planning, the chances of being among the three quarters of organizations in the German-speaking world that have had to pay a lot, if not too much, learning money is very high.
Developments towards Multispace, New Work, FlexWork or Work Smart are, in our understanding, radical transformations that require a holistic view and approach.
We offer holistic support that makes the transformation to new, smart forms of work successful.
We will be happy to advise you and show you what the potential of a Work Transformation can entail for your organization and how it can be designed to ensure success. Rely on and contact us.