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New Work

Is New Work the same as home office?

From June 22, 2022May 17th, 2023No comments
Hybrid Work Home Office

Is New Work synonymous with home office? This question has even made it into German talk shows. And - by the way - it caused an outcry in the German New Work Bubble. Because one thing is clear: anyone who equates new work with home office is missing the point.

The synonym for change 

New Work is seemingly everywhere. Whether projects, new concepts or working models, the term is quickly used as a synonym. Office renovations or new office facilities become New Work projects. Agile working is touted under the guise of New Work (in the worst case, it doesn't even conceal a method, but chaotic working on demand). Back-to-office concepts, i.e. definitions for post-pandemic ways of working, are also sold too quickly as New Work.

Defining New Work clearly. Why do we find it so difficult?

A clear and generally valid definition of New Work simply does not exist (yet). Even the New Work Community(according to the New Work Barometer one of the most important studies on the topic of New Work) is not necessarily consistent in its statements about what exactly New Work is and what it is not.

Currently, the preferred definition is "psychological empowerment":

"New Work is a range of measures that aim to increase the psychological empowerment of employees; that is, the experience of meaningfulness, self-determination, influence and competence at work." 

With this definition, it becomes clear: we don't need a fancy office or even a home office to achieve this. Which is not to say that a new environment or workplace autonomy cannot help us establish New Work for ourselves. But a new office or the option for home office alone do not automatically help to implement New Work.

Wherever it says New Work on the label, it must also say New Work on the inside.

What can we do concretely to ensure this?

  1. Allow ambivalences and do not pretend that our organisation has the interpretative authority for the term New Work.
  2. Ensure holism in the New Work project and not only look at infrastructure or home office, but also talk about attitude, leadership, cooperation and communication.
  3. Conduct symptom analyses of staff members to find out where the shoe pinches in the first place. At the same time, we have to avoid working on problems that may not even exist.
  4. And yes, workplace autonomy is an important building block of a New Work concept in 2022 - so there should be clear communication on this. And a working model should be designed.