"New Work" – is that really a goal-oriented working environment?


"New Work" – is that really a goal-oriented working environment?

Everyone is talking about „New Work“. This new way of working is supposed to give employees more freedom in fulfilling their duties, to guarantee structures for quicker decision-making and putting new ideas into practice. Whilst an interesting approach, you might quickly get lost in its diverse shades.

One already knows various former approaches to change processes such as "management by...-discussions" (cooperative management style), introduction of job descriptions, assessment systems with psychological selection procedures, personality tests, 360° feedback and much more. Now "New Work" is ‚in‘ - linked with terms such as "Agile Work", "Remote Work", "Scrum" and endless "Benefits" for the all-round service for employees. Not to forget about the range of various educational activities for the digital working world of tomorrow.

In our already increasingly heated trend discussions, the impression quickly arises that no effective operation will be possible in any company in the future without "New Work", if the new guiding principles are not implemented soon enough: You won't find any more employees, the existing personnel can't move anything or doesn't want to do so. They are completely demotivated and immediately look for a new "New Work" employer. And even the management does not know how to deal with this issue. So "New Work" also has the potential to introduce a lot of uncertainty into a company. At the thought of all this, the core of work itself is becoming increasingly out of focus.

"It is time to develop a little more awareness of reality once again and to get back down to earth."

Udo Wirth, Managing Director of the wirth + partner consulting group

Companies work to develop, produce and sell good, market-driven products. Therefore, they need employees and provide workplaces where people perform their services. By doing so, they earn money and thereby can finance their lives. Nowadays, the satisfying and motivating framework that offers freedom and prospects of future professional development, is usually taken for granted. Nevertheless, it must be just as self-evident that the employer can expect a performance from the employee that enables the company to be successful and competitive with their products on the global market space.

Or in different words: "A rationally thinking person does not go to work because they receive benefits such as a company bicycle, a breakfast basket, a massage at lunchtime or back therapy training, or because the fitness club contribution is paid by the company and everybody can train with the company football team in the evening". Leisure time, health and further education are primarily aspects that belong directly in the hands and responsibility of each individual - of course with more or less support from the employer, but without the obligation to take responsibility for them. Which systems, benefits and scopes for design are offered around the workplace, should therefore not be determined by politics, laws, social peer pressure or by the fact that something is "in" at the moment. No, the top priority in an economically managed company must always be economic efficiency in conjunction with social responsibility and the basic organisational possibilities or conditions.

Perhaps a look back at the German economy's past will help: Many German companies were very successful internationally in the decades following World War II - without the "New Work" approaches cited above. Perhaps an analysis of this success would be helpful in order to effectively counter the future threats that are currently rising globally. Showing motivation, a sense of responsibility, a willingness to take risks and flexibility not only in one's leisure time but above all in one's professional life would help. However, this also requires companies to create a framework for it with their culture. The adjusting screw is the balance between corporate success, social responsibility and a company-specific, modern working environment, not the unreflected latest trend on the labor market.


  • Human Resource Management