“New Work” is a term that denotes a new way of working that is relevant to the modern digital age. The phrase was coined by Frithjof Bergmann, an Austro-American social philosopher, based on his assessment that the traditional method of working is outdated.
New Work is based on four core tents that seek to remove the drudgery of the existing work structure that tends to demotivate employees. The first tenet is that work must be inspiring. The repetitive and mundane tasks can be automated. As such, the remaining creative, innovative tasks can be assigned to employees so that a more engaging and inspiring workplace is created.
Secondly, companies must focus on giving employees tasks that they really want to do. This will ensure that workers remain passionate. Thirdly, the community must be prioritized. People tend to be social beings and most of them have an innate need to give something back to society. If work can be structured in a way that an employee’s tasks end up benefiting society in some way, then that is a direction that companies should move toward.
The fourth tenet is a commitment to freedom. This means that employees have the flexibility to work when they want, where they want, and so on. At present, this transformation is already taking place since many businesses have opted for flexible, remote working schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to one study, employees under New Work show 58 percent higher loyalty than traditional workers. Since they were more satisfied with their work, their loyalty toward the company naturally increased. The ability to make better decisions in a company rose by 83 percent. Plus, productivity rose by 20 percent, mostly due to the fact that employees felt more appreciated under New Work.
New Work vs Old Work
Work-life balance: The focus of existing work is to make sure that an employee works for as many hours as possible. In contrast, New Work focuses on whether an employee is able to balance his work and life very well. This difference is due to the fact that New Work is based on the idea that if an employee has a happy personal life, they will inevitably work as best as possible at their job.
Massive digitization: In New Work, the internal processes are digitized to the maximum. This is not just limited to the automation of routine tasks. Instead, every employee and department is interconnected so that they are free to share information. This makes a business transparent to its employee and the workers have an idea of what their company is aiming for overall.
In a traditional work system, people are divided into groups and are assigned tasks. The workers are only expected to fulfill these tasks and do not have much interaction or engagement with the tasks of other departments. For instance, the sales department may not know what the logistics department is doing, the logistics department may not know what the accounting department is doing, and so on.
Hierarchy: In New Work, hierarchy does not have much importance. Rather than a top-down leadership, the focus is on making sure that everyone in the company participates in the decision-making process. For instance, a German company called Einhorn allows its employees to decide on vacation days, salaries, tasks, and so on.
The biggest drawback of New Work is that it requires employees of a company to have high integrity and self-discipline. Lazy and selfish employees will only take advantage of the open nature of New Work and cause losses to the company. Some people also criticize that New Work might make employees prioritize leisure over work.