Hello, I’m new here and I’m doing something unusual. I admit I have no idea. Nevertheless, after Dr. Winfried Felser’s call for a blog parade, I would like to get involved in NewWork.
But a few short words in advance, so that there are no misunderstandings. Even though I am celebrated as a blogger in the meantime because I have published two articles on completely independent niche topics, I still hold back with this name (at least until one of the articles has cracked the 50 page views). Until recently, I didn’t intend to carry my rather unspectacular opinion out into the world. I never envied the people who turned half their lives upside down so that they could earn a living with affiliate links. I am not a digital nomad, do not plan (in the foreseeable future) to become an online business* and have no other general need to communicate.
And yet at some point I started to think about how I would like to live in the future between my second child and home loan. On the 52 weekends in the year and at the time between “child-in-bed” and “crap, only 6 hours of sleep” I don’t want to change that much. For me, this means that I would have to take into account the greatest possible effect on my family life in my day-to-day work. And as soon as you start to deal with it a little, you will end up in NewWork after digitization horror scenarios and Goodbye Germany.
It’s not that I only became aware last week that there’s something else than the 40 hour week at the office desk. Not at all, sir. The colourful selection of alternative initiatives I am interested in include the concept of Frederic Laloux’s Teal Organizations, Rob Hopkins’ Transition Towns, self-help experiments, James Ehrlich’s ReGen Villages, Unconditional Basic Income or Results Only Work Environments.
But I have only really become immersed in the subject matter in the last few months, after having come across ideas and organisations more and more often, especially in the social media, which apparently seemingly want to revolutionize the future of work in a serious way.
The more I researched, the more I came across the term NewWork. Somehow, a lot more is happening out there than I thought our society would.
But then – before I could spell Frithjof Bergmann – the whole movement was revealed as elitist shit (thanks to Hendrik Epe) and then completely deconstructed (thanks to Mark Lambertz). And so now I stand there and wonder what all this wonderful theoretical knowledge brings me. Just a moment ago I wanted to personally put on the meaningful raised bed in the corner office with every #NewWorker and now the proverbial pig has already raced through the village without me before the trend could even become a trend. Because apart from a few digitizing lines with a bit too much time (and I count myself as one of them) hardly anyone is interested in the new work right now. In February 2017, only 1,300 googles were made in Germany to New Work. 14 times less than after “digitization”. Guess some people didn’t get the memo.
This is not surprising. We don’t have to fool ourselves. After all, a new idea of work can only be seriously considered when current life is reasonably regulated. I am now in the comfortable situation where I can afford to think about “New”. I have a happy family, my own home, a car, no dog and a secure income. Now, but really only now, a little more free time and a job where you can save the world would be an excellent addition.
I have no idea what worries, needs and desires hairdressers, construction workers, 3D animators, theatre actors, kindergarten teachers, circus artists, lawyers, doctors or policemen are in training and how they imagine their New Work, New Life, New Self, New Hastenichtgesehen in the future. But for me as a child, friend and defender of digitization, the next steps on my way to becoming a new employee of the month will probably be like this.
Before I run, I want to know where I’m going. At least roughly. As I have already indicated, I have dealt intensively with various theoretical constructs. But they’re probably just about the tip of the iceberg. Between Taylor and Laloux lies almost exactly a century of organizational evolution. This can’t be summed up in 160 characters. #ChallengeAccepted
In other words, before I have a concrete picture of who benefits from what kind of changes, how and why, and what role you can play personally, I have to learn a little bit more. Preferably via concrete case studies. A theory is only a theory until it is put into practice.
And I’m not interested in demonizing the existing system and discovering the perfect alternative right away. There are many things that have worked excellently for decades and still work. At a time when there was less supply than demand, the 40-hour week was decisive for the prosperous society in which we find ourselves today. Just because a lot of people have worked very hard according to very clear rules, some of us are now in a position to ask the question of meaning. And regardless of this, many companies are still creating a great deal of added value for many people in the traditional way. Even those who don’t have such a good reputation: Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, 9Live.
My wish is therefore to use concrete examples to understand which ideas are collected under the NewWork label and which ideas have been and are actually applied in practice. On the one hand, this includes Ricardo Semler’s successful attempts to democratize work in the Brazilian 3,000-man company and the flexible working hours model of the German 30-man agency Dark Horse. But on the other hand, you can also learn a lot from the less successful stories, such as the attempt to pay all employees the same salary at Gravity Payments or the now abolished home office policy at Yahoo. The important thing is that there is more than just black or white here. You can not only buy organic food or fly by plane. There is a wide range in between and you can try to move in the right direction with a wide range of information.
I don’t think that’s a real word (except in Switzerland). But it still fits. I want to know what I can work towards. What it is worth working towards.
What can my life look like in five years, in terms of my job, my family, my apartment, my technologies, my mobility, my food, my knowledge and my social contacts? There are some great visions of the future that inspire me. But they all have to go through the reality check first before you can think of implementation.
Currently, potential targets look something like this: Reduce working hours, live more self-sufficiently, make meaningful use of technological possibilities, create value at work and for society, educate children to become good people, get to know the world, focus more on social relationships, focus less on consumption, support and promote positive initiatives and share one’s own values with others. I think this is a good start, but you can still work on it.
What particularly amazes me in the last few weeks is how much theoretical knowledge exists on the subject of alternative working models. With some blog posts I would have liked to print out Wikipedia and put it next to the laptop, so that I don’t have to change the tabs all the time in order to look at the particular good or particularly bad scientific theory.
At times like this, I’d like to take the shortcut. I don’t want to plough through everything again myself and form my own opinion on every 500-page thought construct. I would like to get to know the anecdotes, the case studies, the concrete recommendations for action and then gladly also a pointed summary of the theoretical basics. But quickly and without the need for scientific expertise. I have thought through a number of different approaches and have come to the conclusion that personal exchange with like-minded people is the most promising way forward. Normally, that wouldn’t have been my first choice. Social networking is not my thing. But if you want to learn, you have to be friendly.
And where do I start? The easy but not very helpful answer is: everywhere. New organisational structures, digital leadership, sustainability, co-working, renewable energies, abolishing hierarchies or building a new value system. There are many puzzle pieces on the way to #NewLife. Oh, did I write #NewLife? Is that a little overreach now? Probably not. How can we seriously deal with the work of the future without considering topics such as Smart Home, AI, Autonomous Driving, Blockchain or Liquid Democracy? And this is just a completely random selection of small and big trends for the next few years.
A concrete plan would therefore be completely out of place. If the much-vaunted agile way of working has taught me something in the last ten years, then it is more important to start with a rough vision than to wait until the vision is carved in stone before taking the first step.
Note by the side: I’m a bit proud of this subtitle, because it includes both going off and splitting the big vision into small, easily digestible packages.
And that’s where the product manager in me gets through. It is impossible to plan exactly what the puzzle will look like at the end (if we assume that there is such a thing as an end at all). So we have to do small experiments to get closer to our vision step by step.
I don’t tend towards actionism. This means that even if, as the head of product at etventure, I’m as close to NewWork at the interface between Company Builder and management consultancy from the outside, as United Airlines is to the “Best Company Award”, I won’t quit tomorrow and change my life. I think my current job is great and I am very fortunate that the interest in innovative, future-oriented concepts is very strongly anchored in our corporate culture (note: I write this completely voluntarily and completely regardless of whether etventure reads along or not). In addition, my daily work means that I learn a lot about the impact of digitization and innovation in the free economy. Transferring this knowledge to other areas such as society, education and culture is an exciting challenge.
I don’t know exactly what to do now. But the goal is clear: inform, process, exchange and implement. As elaborate as this is, this is the only way to put my current ideas to the test and to develop resilient concepts with real added value from fixed ideas together with like-minded people.
I have the feeling that with my current skillset I can contribute to NewWork, NewLife, sustainability and value creation. I haven’t proved it yet. So if someone has a suggestion. Give it to me. I’m happy to be a part of it.
If it makes sense in the context of a text to refer to suitable literature, however, I use the Amazon PartnerNet. If it’s advertising, it’s not for nothing.
Latest posts by Gregor Ilg (see all)
- The (first) annual review of 2018 – Looking back at the future - 25. January 2018
- Fair salary for all! – A #NewPay thought experiment - 25. October 2017
- NewWork, WhyWork, iWork – Application for Employee of the Month - 23. April 2017