An assessment of the working world of tomorrow

The normal normality
It is normal to go to the office. Normally we are not allowed to do a home office, only in exceptional cases. I see my colleagues in the office anyway. I only have contact with colleagues from other countries by mail – every now and then a call. Normal? What is a normal working day anyway? What is a normal working environment and atmosphere? Many define normal as what applies to the majority of us. Many would probably have signed the above statements at the beginning of the year.

Corona is not normal. Corona has suddenly thrown normality out of kilter. Behavioural patterns that arose from habit and tradition were broken. “This is just handled differently here” was suddenly no longer an argument. Companies have adapted to the situation and the new circumstances, often at a remarkably rapid pace. Employees and managers had to change, to adapt to the new conditions. And so suddenly other things became normal. 100% home office, part-time work, video conferencing in leisure wear, digital lunch dates.

 

Man as a creature of habit
Due to our deadlocked habits we like to forget to reflect whether other ways of working might not be more desirable. More time for the family by eliminating the need to travel to and from work in the home office, solidarity in the team regardless of where the employee lives through digital networking, but also the simplicity of finding solutions in physical meetings. Our working environment is not designed according to what is best for the respective team or individual employee in the current situation. Rules, patterns and habits determine how we work together. A code of conduct defines fixed corporate values, the top-down approach defines the strategic direction. The 5-year agenda determines the upcoming focus topics and the distribution of the budget.

We can learn from the experiences of the past months that everyone can break out of their normality at any time. Instead of letting habits determine our working environment, the company as well as each individual employee should constantly question themselves. The individual situation of the team as well as of each employee should decide about the framework conditions of everyday work and the way of collaboration. In this way, flexible and individually optimal solutions can be found.

 

Digital & Agile – Filling the keywords with life
Digitalization and an agile mindset open up completely new possibilities for collaboration. Tools as a companion to our daily work as well as agile project approaches enable innovative product developments despite minimal use of resources. It’s time that we make even more use of these possibilities and thus shape our working world of tomorrow. Here are three desirable future developments:

Independence of living and working place:
VPN, Slack, Trello and Teams make it possible. And not only does this solve the problem of commuting and long commuting distances, it may also mean that more people would decide to move to the countryside again and the overstretched conurbations would be relieved. Social problems are addressed and the needs of employees are addressed flexibly.

Life phase models:
Depending on the phase an employee is currently in, he or she should be offered more flexible working models. Both in terms of the number of hours, as well as home office and travel. This could have a positive effect on a better work-life balance and thus higher employee satisfaction.

Physical distance unequal social distance:
The “we” must be brought to the fore even more through physical distance. The two developments mentioned above do not have to be accompanied by a distance between employees. Digital communication channels can and must be used to strengthen human bonds. Shared virtual experiences can be easily integrated into everyday working life and create a constant closeness and connection. Digital lunch dates, online workshops and virtual afterwork – useful and regularly used with great effects.

 

My “New Normal”
So what is the “New Normal” and is normality even desirable? How the working world of tomorrow will look like is up to us. My “New Normal” is away from normality and towards flexible and individual solutions. Digitalization offers us an incredible tool to make almost everything possible. We just have to want to do it and do it. For this, an open mind set of companies, managers and employees is essential.

 

Angelika Vits | Co-Founder & CEO at GREWP