Mobile work and home office are on everyone’s minds, but there are growing voices that agility and spatial distance are not optimal in the long run. The basis of this argument is that cooperation requires a certain degree of trust. This is how the agile coach says in my roundtable: Trust arises from person to person, not from screen to screen.”

For this reason, numerous office concepts in the form of new buildings are currently being tested by corporations and medium-sized companies. In the following I would like to present the concepts of my Roundtable participants and show the first insights in the daily work with them. If you need some prior knowledge, you can read these articles:

NewWork using the example of an IT group

The creation of software is a highly labor-sharing process. The parties involved must think in a networked way and react quickly to changing requirements, whether due to customer wishes or legal changes, according to the Group’s manager. For this reason, a new building should create better networking and cooperation, there are various meeting rooms of all kinds as well as rooms for fitness, orchard and a work surface outside. Customer support is also available in the house. “The entire building is designed for communication and movement,” says the IT group’s manager in my roundtable.

Before the construction of the concept, we tested various pilot concepts together with 120 employees. For this purpose, we rented a building and every employee who applied was allowed to work in one of the concepts for two weeks and give us feedback. This is the result of our new NewWork concept.

In the subsequent guided tour through the building of the IT group, the seating arrangement in the open space could be observed. Teams often sat close together and small “team islands” could be noticed, according to the managers of the IT group. In order to prevent these islands from establishing themselves permanently, a concept of “Jump Day” was conceived for this purpose. Every employee is encouraged to change the workplace and the team on that day. Jump Day takes place once a year to ensure a balance between security and change, according to the IT group’s manager. The agile coach of the IT group also assesses an advantage in the space occupation and disenfranchises the prejudice that fewer employees have space: The agile coach of the IT group also assesses an advantage in the space occupation and refutes the prejudice that fewer employees have space: “I think it was about 70% where you have an average of the staff. So 30% are free on average. And even if home office is not a problem for us, often it is also approved. There is [auch] no core working time, you can come whenever you want with us.”

NewWork on the example of a sports goods manufacturer

In return, the sports goods manufacturer also presented the design of the NewWork concept. There are also no permanent jobs here. “There is a gym for the staff as well as opportunities for further sports activities. With the help of a building located a few 100 meters away from the HQ, we are constantly testing new office concepts. On 3 floors you will find 3 different concepts, which we will try out successively. Up to 300 employees are able to test the concepts. Among other things, the mixture of sports hall and office or a mixture of shared flat and office will be tested there,” says the representative of the sports goods manufacturer.

This is complemented by various areas for work, such as highly creative, quiet and team spaces. It is important to create the right place for every job. Especially the work in the digital context is highly creative and, according to the manager, can no longer be carried out by a classic desk alone. “The vision is to create an atmosphere that promotes flexibility and cooperation and breaks down hierarchies,” says the manufacturer’s representative.

For the company, it’s about getting faster and promoting creativity and innovation, she said. At the beginning, the Flexidesk principle met with a lot of resistance, but now you look, not all desks are occupied and the meeting rooms are always full. “It is communicated and networked. This ensures agility and speed and finally I have the feeling that it is also space-saving because many of them are also in the home office on Fridays or even two days in the home office.

NewWork using the example of an IT data center service provider

In addition, the participants of SMEs have already developed the first concepts for open spaces in the company. These usually result from a planned renovation of the building. The IT data center service provider also presents its concept.

In the course of a renovation, an office space was converted into an open space concept together with a service provider and the inclusion of feedback from employees. Zones were created for highly concentrated, quiet and creative work as well as teamwork. The goal was to provide the right workplace for every activity. “Especially working in IT requires high flexibility, quick response and incorporation of changes,” says the in-house consultant. “The goal is to create a suitable zone for every work. For highly concentrated work you can either go to the desk or go with headphones into our area with different beanbags. For quiet work, we have set up special areas and set up a think tank for creative work rounds. Since every employee has a laptop with us, it is easy to look for a new job every hour,” continues the consultant.

The entrepreneur’s consultant sees the concept as a success and now plans to gradually renovate additional areas in order to create additional office space especially for concentrated work. Especially in data center operations, it is important to act quickly and effectively in case of accidental failures or updates in order to meet the availability of 99.9%. Especially through new concepts, we can become faster and more agile, according to the consultant.

Conclusion on NEwWork

It cannot currently be assumed that the presented concepts are already at a final stage. Especially in the office concepts and mobile work there are numerous open questions, which have to be dealt with

A deeper evaluation is currently carried out by the representative of the trade union from the Roundtable. The focus of this evaluation was the influence on efficiency and the health burden. The implementation of NewWork and agile methods is often and happily mentioned in his breath. Initial samples show that, according to the union’s board, the number of burnout cases investigated cannot be associated with agile methods or new office concepts. New concepts also show greater communication and agility.

However, according to the union’s board, it will be increasingly severe to perceive and protect employees. New topics such as technostress through constant accessibility and information overload through a high amount of data are also increasing. These phenomena in particular are new and go with the increasing digitalization as well as the increased communication, which is also promoted especially by new office concepts.

However, these studies are only samples and not yet very meaningful, the union board limits. It remains exciting how the development of the Newwork continues and what long-term consequences can be deduced. In order to further develop these concepts, the union is in permanent dialogue with the member companies and undertakes regular trips to The Silicon Valley.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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