New work: three theses from an internal communication perspective
New work here, new work there: Whether as a reaction to the shortage of skilled workers or to support agile processes – many companies have already taken up the topic. But what can communication professionals contribute to the introduction and implementation of new work? Three theses from the perspective of internal communication:
Thesis 1: Every company interprets new work differently – internal communication must make it clear what is meant
Football table and fruit basket, trust-based working hours or home office? The original idea of Fritjof Bergmann, the founder of the Center for New Work in Michigan, was different. His goal was to bring work and the individual into harmony. Bergmann wanted to transform the role of work – from securing one’s livelihood to a fulfilling profession.
Today, the understanding of new work has changed. While the term is mentioned at least three times in every bar camp or innovation seminar, in practice the interpretations differ widely: people talk about more flexibility, agile working methods or a democratic management culture. But what does this mean for employees and managers? Communication experts should make the concrete ideas behind new work transparent so that a common understanding can develop within the company.
Thesis 2: New work is a change process that needs to be accompanied by communication
Regardless of how companies interpret the term “new work,” its introduction is a process of change that affects a wide variety of areas in the organisation. The available technology must support self-determined work. A culture of trust and cooperation is a requirement for new work to succeed. The right framework conditions must also be defined so that new work can take place at all.
To ensure that the change is supported by managers and employees, carefully planned change communication is needed that takes all stakeholders into account.
Thesis 3: New work will not work without cultural change, to which internal communication must contribute
In fact, New Work is much more than an organisational change. It is about a change in mindset, a further development of leadership, collaboration and culture in the company.
This cannot and does not have to be handled by internal communication professionals alone. But because communication plays an important role in the success of cultural change, it must contribute – alongside leadership, HR, IT and other departments in the company. Whether as a pilot department for new work, in explaining the “Why?” or by publishing best practices: The more tangible and comprehensible it is communicated to colleagues what is in store for them, the greater the chances of success for a new world of work that stays!