New Work – Rethink Work

Digitization means much more than new technologies. It also means new working models. Prof. Dr. Antje Helpup re-thinks work and explains the magic formula Agile Working.

Where does digital transformation lead? Photo: Fotolia - Robert Kneschke

Where does digital transformation lead? Photo: Fotolia – Robert Kneschke

In her role as a professor at Ostfalia University, Business Economist Dr. Antje Helpup occupies herself with this epochal change. As owner of the Institute for Management (ima), she organizes the Automotive Trend Forum ATF (see left). For this edition of DEKRA solutions, she sparked dialog between students and senior management. Her research centers around solutions for employees that are confronted by a growing deluge of work and time constraints.

Experienced employees and managers often find it difficult to accept change, while junior staff seem not to notice it at all. “As digital natives, they have an entirely different mindset,” explains Helpup. Generation Y is moving away from “nine to five,” and towards more flexible arrangements which contribute to their self-fulfillment. The management tools of most businesses rarely keep up with this shift.

New Work – Work Needs to be Rediscovered

Digitalization covers far more than just new technologies. Work becomes more complex, faster and less easy to plan. Effective goals and business models today can be obsolete by tomorrow. Appropriate methods need to be created in order to react flexibly and dynamically. Specialists in the field of work organization speak of “New Work.” Agile work is the name of a magic formula, incorporating flexibility, speed and high employee independence. It is common for traditional hierarchies not to fit this way of working. It is about rethinking work itself, and letting go of firmly-held dogmas. The success of a digital transformation is often a function of how successfully management is able to adjust to this.

In the “New Economy,” this is already a common reality. But the “Old Economy” cannot shy away either. Empathy, mindfulness and the ability to improvise are more effective tools than structured planning here. True teamwork with a clear transfer of responsibility is plays a huge role in our increasingly networked world, and personal interaction between the team members is key, as is the ability to communicate electronically. Attentiveness and happiness have pronounced effects on the success of a project.

If you would like to perform an agility check for your enterprise, you can do so using the Ostfalia University’s questionnaire, and simultaneously contribute to scientific understanding in this field. The questionnaires are evaluated with full anonymity, for the purpose of research.

Interview: Three questions for…
Prof. Dr. Antje Helpup, professor at the Ostfalia University in Wolfsburg

Photo: Roman Brodel

Photo: Roman Brodel

Is agile work a cure-all for dealing with the digital revolution?
Helpup: It is a good approach, at the very least. It affects the minds of employees, and its flexible working and communication methods strengthen values such as openness, mindfulness, transparency, responsibility and improvisational ability.
Would you explain what mindfulness means in this context?
Helpup: Taking a look at our meeting ­culture is helpful for this. They are viewed by many as time-killers, and the participants are often distracted, typing emails on the side. Mindfulness is about engaging all participants, providing them with your full attention, and demanding the same in return. There are many guides on how to do so.
What defines a “digital leader”?
Helpup: Digital leaders maintain an overview in complex situations, guiding the team’s attention in a focused and goal-­oriented manner. They sense moods, keep team morale high, bind key players with their appreciation, and use self-reflection to flee old thought and behavioral patterns.

 

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