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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 03-Mar-2020
Posted by: Angela HENGSBERGER

5 theses about new work

Digitalization is changing our lives inevitably in both personal and professional life. New technologies and new ways of working play an important role. In this article, you can read what trends will shape the world of work, particularly in the next ten years.

1. Time and room flexibility is becoming the status quo

Already today, many companies are shaping their work structures more flexibly and let their employees decide where and when they want to work. In the future, forms of New Work, such as co-working spaces or remote work, will be the rule, and new digital technologies are boosting this trend. 

Augmented reality (AR), for example, will play a decisive role in improving projects or receiving real-time updates. Virtual Reality (VR), on the other hand, will promote team collaboration as it allows employees to participate in virtual meetings around the world. For instance, if you are not physically present in the collaboration hub, you can use AR and VR equipment to connect visually and cognitively at any time and from anywhere. 3D and 4D communication thus become part of everyday working life.

The own desk as workplace loses importance, while virtual workplaces will play an increasing role. Whether the relatively new concept of "workation", the combination of work ("work") and vacation ("vacation"), will prevail in the long term, is still uncertain. Particularly younger Z-generation employees are big opponents of work-life blending.

According to the current study by IMC FH Krems, mobile working is fundamentally a high priority for employees: 75 percent of all job seekers already look for companies with flexible working methods, and 72 percent of employees would choose mobile working methods over a pay rise. A challenge for companies, however, will be how to develop a deep sense of community and a robust corporate culture against this background. 

2. Office facilities are becoming more open

The trend towards flexible working methods is also reflected in the design of office spaces. The primary function of office design in the future will be to promote creativity and collaborative working relationships: In addition to open-plan offices and coworking centers, flexible, multifunctional areas, desk-sharing, open spaces as well as rest and collaboration zones will be part of everyday business across all sectors. Microsoft Austria, for example, has already equipped its office in Vienna with more than 60 meeting rooms, each with different functions. To facilitate working in open teams, employees no longer have a fixed workplace. Depending on the project, they are allowed to decide where they want to work.

3. Project-based forms of work are gaining in importance

Working will also become more flexible at another level. Digital transformation is eroding traditional, linear value chains and turning them into complex ecosystems. Projects are therefore increasingly handled by interdisciplinary teams instead of conventional linear organizations. Additionally, freelancers, internships, and job-hopping make working relationships more flexible. In the future, not only the place and time of work will change, but also the way of working with colleagues and clients. 

Many companies are currently pushing agile working methods to be able to react quickly and effectively to changes caused by digitization and automation. Agility can be understood as the ability of teams and organizations to act flexibly, adaptably, and quickly in an uncertain, changing, and dynamic environment. Various methods such as SCRUM and Design Thinking support working according to agile principles. 

With agile project teams and agile innovation methods, companies can minimize risks and bring innovations to the market much faster. Both are decisive advantages to secure a competitive advantage in the so-called new VUCA world. However, agile working needs to be learned and requires a corresponding adaptation of the corporate culture. It is necessary to mention that not every employee is suitable for working in agile teams. Agile employees need a stable personality to adapt to continually changing conditions and new teams. Similarly, not all projects are eligible for agile methods.

 

Paper Agile innovation management

4. Leadership style becomes more flexible

With the increasing complexity of the networked world of work, autonomy at the workplace is growing, and classic hierarchies are increasingly being dissolved by constantly changing project teams. Consequently, the demands on managers and systems are changing - away from hierarchy towards a supportive and understanding coaching and leadership.

A survey of 164 HR managers from the XING network also confirms this trend. 64% of HR managers assume that agile management will replace classic top-down management in the next 15 years. Every seventh company even believes that in 15 years there will no longer be any hierarchies or superiors.

The interviewees strongly believe that a clear set of rules will divide responsibility between individual functions in the future. The employees themselves will determine and fill the roles within the working groups, which will increase everyone's freedom of choice. 

5. Corporate cultures are changing

Companies are often unaware that new working environments such as mobile working or agile project teams require a change in corporate culture. Besides, the older and bigger the company, the more difficult it is to implement changes.  

Managers are often challenged by new forms of work because they require a change in leadership style. Conversely, this also means that managers who do not want these changes can be a real hurdle along the way. The introduction of new working environments and agility in the company will, therefore, only work if managers are willing to change their thinking.

Another crucial factor in the change process is the active involvement of employees, for example, in the design of a new office. Employees must also be supported in acquiring the necessary skills. Finally, the development of a failure culture and the definition of formal rules (e.g., for mobile work) is essential.

Conclusion: Cultural change through new working worlds

The rise of digitization will accompany the transformation of the world of work significantly. However, new forms of employment and organization must be supported by change management processes to be successful. The adaptation of the corporate or innovation culture and the continuing training of employees regarding the new skills will play a central role in this process. Building new offices without taking those factors into account, is not enough and will not lead to the desired success.

 

Establishment of an innovation culture

Angela HENGSBERGER

Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.

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