A shift in values towards collaboration, creative solutions and agility will result in the humanisation of future work
Author: Sarah-Marie Lau
The pandemic has certainly proven that innovation and flexibility in the work culture are more important than established rules and forced workflows. The opposite is the case, strict working conditions can even stand in the way of productivity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified already existing difficulties and restrictions. Thus, it now provides the opportunity to overcome these challenges with new methods. Learn more about the implications for corporates and employees:
Covid-19 pandemic led to a humanization of the world of work
While productivity and efficiency were used as a measure of values in the last few decades, there is currently a shift back to the humanization of the workplace. Collaboration, creative solutions and rapid flexibility have replaced the values of a machine-oriented work culture.
Many topics that were already urgent pre-Covid have to be rethought now. Priorities have shifted massively, which seems to create a new canon of values. Values such as individual flexibility, community, empathy and inclusion come to the fore. An exciting view that will also disclose new areas of solution.
But what will the post-pandemic New Work culture look like?
According to the World Economic Forum (WEC) the working environment will transform significantly. These changes have a great potential for improving the work culture:
- Flexibility in the workplace: Flexible hybrid models as an integral part of the new world of work will increase efficiency
- Rethinking the workplace: The office architecture adapts to the agile New Work requirements with a performance-enhancing effect
- Empathic leadership: Humane leadership promotes a healthy work culture and can act as an innovation accelerator
- Employees are customers: The focus of NextGen HR are new ways of internal talent management towards employee experience
- Inclusive work culture: Integration of women and minorities increases corporates success towards greater resilience
1. Flexible hybrid models as an integral part of the new work routine
According to surveys by the WEC, only 10% of employees do not prefer to physically return back to work. So there is a kind of hunger for human exchange face to face. However, remote working will continue to grow and will be the standard in 5-6 years. In this context, new working rules are expected in order to maintain a healthy balance between work and recovery.
The new etiquette includes, for example, meeting-free days, digital coffee breaks and breaking up the stringent nine-to-five model. With hybrid models, the home office is becoming an essential part of the daily work routine. These models must be actively integrated into the corporate culture and adapt to the personal needs of the employees. The pandemic has thus proven that more flexibility promotes the efficiency and performance of teams and increases trust outside of the compulsory attendance.
2. Office architecture adapts to agile New Work requirements
When it comes to architecture a rethinking is required. The office has developed itself from a pure “place of work” to a "community hub" for a strong culture and meaningful personal exchange. The design of the office must adapt to the requirements of agile working. Activity-based working models (ABW) are becoming increasingly popular. These offer the choice between various activity-related workstations.
The architecture follows the guiding principle “Your Office Is Where You Are” as a benchmark for workplace design. These models can be designed with the help of open spaces alternating with areas for concentrated work and creative project work. The equipment and the interior design play an important role here. This trend is already being exemplified by many co-working spaces.
3. Humane leadership as an innovation accelerator
The shift from stringent productivity to empathic leadership allows employees to boldly move into new directions. A people leader develops a healthy and fair employee culture. A feeling of security in the workplace and solidarity with the employer enable the quick integration of new flexible systems.
Creative solutions find fertile ground in a safe work environment. The shift from reacting to meaningful reinvention for a better future must take place now. The basis for this is a human-friendly, collaborative togetherness that takes the pressure off to allow innovation.
4. Focus on promoting talent and employee experience
In future, employees will be just as much of a focal point as customers are. Employee development can primarily be improved through innovative digital models. That is also why, for example Porsche has developed an award-winning internal online training model for its employees based on augmented reality.
According to Bain & Company the development towards Next Gen HR shows that around three quarters of the workforce will be millennials by 2025 - with completely new demands. Promoting soft skills and opportunities for talent development do not only have motivational effects, but can also bring teamwork to perfection. However, this also requires certain financial investments from the corporates.
5. Inclusion & diversity leading to more resilience
Inclusion is another important topic of the new work culture. A Study by MicKinsey has shown that women were particularly affected by the crisis and, as a result, had to give up their jobs in many cases. For the successful inclusion of women and minorities, an empathic working environment, the establishment of a speak-out culture and flexible working conditions are of greatest importance.
This includes simple things like setting up safe spaces or promoting education through training and discussion. The coming together of like-minded people also promotes inclusion. Diversity in the workplace must therefore be consciously promoted and, in return, can lead to more resilience in times of crisis. The boundaries loosened by the pandemic in terms of choosing a place of work offer an opportunity to make the workforce more inclusive.
New Work offers the chance to actively shape paradigm shifts
While the pandemic is affecting each one of us with challenges in professional and private life, we can at the same time look forward to the fruits of an upcoming paradigm shift and take the chance to actively shape the changes.