No “Remote Work” without “New Work”
By Marc Wagner
A cry is being heard all around the country: for #RemoteWork and #HomeOffice in times of crisis. The corona virus mobilizes even the last deniers of the transformation, and all of them have realized that old models do not work in new times. Of course, most of them would prefer to take no more than a short hop. Let’s buy some laptops. Then the people who test positive for the virus as well as those who are still testing negative should just work from home.
What many don’t understand – buying laptops is not enough. After a quick sprint, there is no way to avoid taking a holistic view in the long run. Or more simply: Anyone who says #RemoteWork must also say #NewWork. To this extent, the situation we now find ourselves in will be a litmus test and a catalyst for obtaining the skills needed for the innovation of Deutschland AG.
Massive clashes from #RemoteWork
However, it is likely that those of us who have so far relied primarily on instruction and close supervision will mistrust our employees who are working from home. Who knows what is going on? How can we even monitor what is happening? Are body cams allowed?
But even with the best of intentions – how will employees who are used to putting their best foot forward when gathered together in the office (and, above all, in the immediate vicinity of the boss) organize their work? And how do I as the manager lead these employees? How do we allay the (largely unjustified) fears that employees who are no longer under the direct control made possible by physical presence will no longer work productively for the company?
There will be massive clashes in a lot of projects. But there are also wonderful opportunities to start planning and taking small steps now that will ultimately lead to a great overall structure.
No #RemoteWork without #NewWork
The truth is, there can be no #RemoteWork without #NewWork – at least in the middle term. After a quick sprint, there will be no avoiding acceptance in the long run of a holistic view of the dimensions People & Organization, Places & Platforms, Principles & Regulations, Technology & Data. In short, the working environment, the technical infrastructure, the rules for cooperation, AND the culture must be right.
But when we look at studies on the subject (e.g., the study from WHU and Oracle), we see a widespread attitude of denial and hesitation in Germany. The virus, however, will not wait for our next planning and implementation cycle, and the market shows little mercy when performance is inadequate.
What is to be done? New Work, but “slightly” accelerated.
In our projects, we recognize the need for speed and pragmatic implementation. This is also understandable. Now, while pursuing a strategy of different time horizons, the first thing we must do is extinguish the worst fires and implement a catalogue of immediate measures that includes more than just buying laptops and introducing Skype/webex. New working models established on a lean foundation, actions to clarify unambiguously various legal issues ... there is a lot that must be accomplished quickly.
But we should be aware: the end of the crisis is the beginning of the crisis. There will be other unexpected events that will confront us with similar challenges. We must begin to think and act for the middle and long term so that we can break out of the repetitive cycle of disruptions caused by the black swans and eliminate our present fragility. I’m sorry if this is not what you want to hear, but this is not the time for wishful thinking. Companies must adjust to the fact that virtual New Work structures are becoming compulsory – nor will this be limited to our current situation – and cannot just be regarded as the final touch.
Is there at least some positive news?
The current situation is turning into a catalyst accelerating our capacity for profound innovation. The most innovative among us will potentially emerge stronger from the crisis in the middle term. That is the good news. The ones who are hoarding laptops and not addressing seriously the issue of increasingly virtual collaboration are unlikely to survive in the middle term even with the aid of transfer payments.
I sincerely hope that all people and organizations emerge from the crisis in good health. In every way.
P.S.: We at Detecon (and in cooperation with our clients) have been dealing with the topic of #NewWork and new forms of (virtual) cooperation for some time now. Based on our experience, we have made available a number of articles relating to the crisis and concrete recommendations for dealing effectively with it, and we will continue to do so. Your questions/requested topics are always welcome.
The original article was published on LinkedIn on 16/03/2020.