Success factors, rules of thumb and pitfalls of #NWW:
The new of working is often understood as working from home. And yes, if anyone works from home one day a week, you will have benefits: fewer traffic jams, no travel time and efficient work without distraction. Is the New Way of Working limited to teleworking and flexible workplaces? Or is it also the driving force for innovation of the organisation?
What is the new way of working (#NWW)?
The new way of working (#NWW) is often described as work by professionals or knowledge workers that is independent from place and time. This concept was initially adopted by the ICT sector. Microsoft has introduced the term ‘the new way of working’ and is still one of the forerunners in this area. Starting point was that knowledge workers had access to relevant information anytime, anywhere. Partly inspired by new trends, HNW now includes much more than just ICT solutions. It stands for a different way of thinking about organizing and has influence on many areas of interest such as leadership, collaboration and organisational culture.
Key features of the new way of working
The management of employees is more based on trust and less on control. This demands different methods of leadership and a ‘new style’ Project manager.
Guidance on outcome and results instead of presence. By flexible and remote ways of working, really only the output of employees is measurable. The input (for example, the number of hours worked) is much less visible.
More freedom for employees to organise their work in terms of time, location and method in a way that seems most appropriate for themselfes. This also means fewer procedures and rules surrounding the work.
Supporting facilities to the new way of working, including ICT applications, flexible office interior design as well as (tele)communications.
Benefits of the new way of working
The new Work has several benefits. Some of the many benefits are mentioned below:
The new way of working leads to better business results and higher labour productivity.
The new way of working brings various cost savings, such as savings in actual office space, travel costs, etc.
The travel efforts (including travel time) of employees decreases. The new way of working makes travelling less necessary and offers opportunities to bypass traffic jams by travelling outside rush hours.
The #NWW is an attractive working condition for potential new employees. Due to the flexibility in working hours and locations, employees can choose when and where they work. Employees also have the work-life balance in their own hand.
Criticism on the New Way of Working
It remains a point of discussion if #NWW is meaningfull or not. From different points of view people warned for the new way of working.
The new world of work is a hype that is promoted by ICT suppliers and consultants to market their products and services. For some organizations, the new way of working is a goal on in itsown instead of a way to organise business smarter.
Real numbers and thorough research into the benefits of the new way of workings are few and far between.
Flexibility and the 24/7 access to information comes with its own challenges and pressure for employees. After all, they are online always and everywhere and on informed about the business. This increases the risk to devote much to work than before. For example, the checking and replying to emails doesn’t stop out of office hours. The blurring line between work and personal life may bring practical problems.
The new way of working is adopted by organisations more for the cost saving aspect than for a different philosophy on work and leadership.
Employees meet less often personally. Despite the many digital contact moments it can actually be experienced as a loss of meeting colleagues. For example: ‘I miss the smoking-room!’.
Pitfalls and bottlenecks in practice
To introduce the new way of working in an office is still far from easy. There are several factors that really stand in the way of work differently in practice:
Managers are struggling to let go of their control-oriented management style. Some managers fear that with remote leadership, employees will mis-use the system when they are out of their view.
The new way of working is (technically) possible for quite some time now. However, before we actually go organize and collaborate in a different way we need a different mindset, a paradigm shift with both managers and professionals.
Physical barriers when different time zones and geagraphical areas are involved, which often go hand in hand with technical hitches.
Socio-cultural barriers like for example a strongly hierarchical organisation. Or ineffective incentives, that don’t call the right people to action. Or much more simple; one misses the conversation at the coffee machine.
Contextual barrier: the tuning and understanding of knowledge which comes from colleagues in other disciplines, levels and areas of expertise. Everyone talks and thinks in his own ‘language’ on any topic. A short circuit in this area makes it sometimes difficult to give or take advice.
Time constraints: knowledge workers very often simply do not the time to constantly share their insights. Sometimes you’ll have to redefine decision-making powers or appoint them to specific knowledge workers and reduce that of others.
Finally, the power how to organise the work lies with the entrepreneur/the Board at the end of the day and this brings us to the theme of innovative working and the redesign of an organisation.
The new way of working the renewal of the organisation, office fit out and furniture
To improve the independence and responsibility at lower levels in the organisational new office design and methods of control become important. The increase of the new media facilitates this process, but the office interiors need to be changed as well.
The new way of working requires other behaviors of employees and management. The most crucial one here is a rethinking of the own responsibility. Ultimately the impact that the new way of working will have on the performance of people and organisations will be significant. Flexible work spaces and a good ICT support are imperative.