The Scandinavian Path to New Work

The term New Work is omnipresent in the context of working culture and collaboration in companies. After all, it is about the long-term structural and strategic orientation of organizations that prevail over their competitors in a fast changing digital competition through agility and innovation. Telenor, the Norwegian multinational telecommunications group, started its own journey towards a modern working culture already more than 15 years ago. In general, Scandinavian companies are considered as forerunners in a modern way of working. Dr. Daniela Drube and Jan Pfeifer, New Work experts at Detecon, had the chance to meet Thomas Andresen and Kaya Yuksel from Telenor to talk about how Telenor was able to reorganize its organizational structure and reposition itself for a digitized and globalized world with the help of New Work. In this strategic exchange, they have interchanged views on various approaches of a modern and innovative organizational culture. The differences and similarities between Scandinavia and Germany help us to explore the European path of New Work.

Space, Culture, Technology - not People, Places and Tools

A difference – but only at first glance: While we at Detecon call the dimensions of New Work "People", "Places" and "Tools", Andresen and Yuksel use the terms "Space", "Culture" and "Technology". But the exchange reveals: They mean exactly the same thing. Andresen and Yuksel confirm: The successful implementation of New Work needs a holistic concept and continuous change management along these three fields. The dimension of "Culture" and "People" requires the necessary workspaces and tools in order to develop optimally in the organizational culture. On the other hand, the best tools and the most flexible workspaces are useless if people do not fill them with life and do not exhaust their potential. The most important "Lessons Learned" for both Telenor and Detecon is to involve the employees from the beginning in the transformation process. Andresen describes the change of mindset as “the hardest challenge”.

Another common view: The dimension “Space” or “Places” is often the starting point for the implementation of New Work measures.

Need for Diversity and Equality in a modern company

Especially in times of digitization, divergent and unusual opinions are in demand. Therefore, companies must increasingly rely on diverse teams and different characters who are provided with the appropriate working environment according to their premises.

Telenor also wants to take advantage of this approach, as Yuksel explains: "At Telenor, we have a diverse set of teams from different backgrounds, from different nations, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand - you can definitely feel that in our working culture."  Other essential aspects are concepts for a work-life balance and the compatibility of family and career - on an equal footing. "I think that translates directly in the working culture and also in the acceptance of using modern concepts to a higher degree.”

Role model Scandinavia?

It becomes clear what is still missing in other cultures and that Scandinavia may is a role model on the way to a modern organizational culture for Germany - not only because of its diversity, but also regarding leadership issues and the way organizational environment is designed in diverse dimensions, such as technology affinity or modern legal regulations concerning work. It is widely recognized that flat hierarchies, cross-functional cooperation and trust-based leadership are the cornerstones of a modern, efficient and innovative organizational culture, and that management and leadership must be geared to the individual. But with a view to the status quo in other cultures, Yuksel notes: "In Norway, these aspects are practiced to a higher degree than in other countries." If companies and corporations want to stay competitive and keep up on the market, they have to follow suit.

Company ReBuilding - The next step of evolution

Finally, we talked about the next steps on the way to a modern organization. What comes after New Work? The answer: It goes into the direction of an organizational approach.

Today, companies do not only have to face the challenge of working as efficiently as possible. If the industry is disrupted, it is no longer enough to incrementally improve the old business model with efficiency. Innovative strength is also important. Being efficient and innovative at the same time is the ability of ambidexterity. “There are two ways of working”, says Andresen. But he does not mean a “new and old way” as an evaluation of both ways. “We call it a red and a blue way of working.” Both of them have to work equally to lead an organization to success. Telenor takes such a holistic approach.

At Detecon, we develop a holistic approach called Company ReBuilding. The basic idea is based on the biological principle of cell division. Within the organization, the cells grow up to a maximum Dunbar's Number of 150-200 employees before it divides. What all cells have in common is a high focus on the needs of the customers as well as the common mindset of New Work. Thus, a large organization can consist of many small cells that act quite autonomously so that the organization can react quickly to external changes. After all, it is not only about changing culture and working methods, but also changing the entire organization and its processes. Telenor and we at Detecon are constantly developing our holistic organizational approaches.

Finally, we want to say thank you to Thomas Andresen and Kaya Yuksel for the interesting strategic exchange.