We work differently in the pandemic than we have in the past. That is indisputable. But it is also true that we at Telekom were already living and designing new working methods before Corona. The so-called New Normal has accelerated this development, known as New Work. Our working world will be different after the pandemic. Now it is a matter of shaping it successfully.
New Work causes work
A culture of trust, autonomous working, agility, meaningfulness, freedom - the topic of New Work has an enormous scope. Not only because it is about the design of structures, but above all about attitudes, relationships and leadership qualities. New Work is not a fixed goal, but a path. At each stage, there are new things to discover and challenges to master. In this sense, New Normality is also a stage on this journey, albeit an unplanned one.
Corona as accelerator
"After all, we had started a lot of things long before the pandemic. Fortunately. Others we could and had to try out. Corona was the pure accelerator here. And it changed a lot of things," said Birgit Bohle at the recent meeting of senior executives. "In the so-called 'new normal,' there is still a lot that is new. And little normal. Especially at the moment. That's why I prefer to talk about New Work. Because we want to advance collaboration at Telekom in the long term. Regardless of the pandemic." Oliver Herrmann, Tribe Lead "New Ways of Working," adds that the Corona crisis is a practical test for New Work methods: "But we're not going to flip one big switch; it's more likely to be many different ones."
Pandemic as practical test
The crisis has shown us how good we really are - each and every one of us, and how good we are together, interacting, we as a company. We had already embarked on a major process in the days when it was still normal to go to cinemas and swimming pools: the further development of our culture, our values. This process has made us fit for the major tasks we had to tackle in the past year. And it will also help us with the tasks facing the company in the coming months and years. For us, having values means living up to our professional responsibilities. As a company that millions of people rely on. For us, having values means: performing: "We won't stop until everyone is connected".
New ways of working only work with a mature corporate culture, says Oliver Herrmann, with values that are lived out. But it also needs structure and orientation so that we all move forward in the same direction.
Open for change
Last summer, the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom set out five guard rails for the new way of working. The guard rails are flanked by the New Work Manifesto agreed shortly afterwards with the Group Works Council. Again and again, the aim is to bring together the best of both worlds - the physical and the virtual, the analog and the digital. The New Way of Working is the key to this. Within the guard rails, we are open to change. They point the way, but are deliberately not a tightly laced corset. Birgit Bohle: "They offer leeway. The best of both worlds doesn't just happen. We have to actively shape it. In the teams."
Accepted: New Work-Charta
New Work is not a new management method. And it's not about being hip or positioningourselves as an attractive employer with snappy slogans and colorful pictures. It's about ensuring the company's success in a dynamic environment. According to the New Work Charter of the Nuremberg-based think tank Humanfy, this requires five principles beyond isolated measures and individual methods that must be reflected in everyday corporate life. Freedom, personal responsibility, meaning, development and social responsibility. In a survey conducted by the SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences, hundreds of company representatives found themselves reflected in this definition.
Chance for growing
Taking employees seriously, increasing their competence, and understanding leadership as a task of offering each individual the best opportunity for growing in order to advance the company - this are the core concepts behind the idea of the new way of working. Human Resources has summed up this approach in its strategy under the heading "Supporting People. Driving Performance" to the point. Telekom's "placeholder" story fits in seamlessly with this, emphasizes Oliver Herrmann.
New Work focuses on performance
And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the "sometimes religious-sounding rhetoric of salvation of the New Work movement," as the scientist Stephan A. Jansen provocatively puts it. But it has just as little to do with monitoring through digital tools or social control by colleagues. It needs a performance consciousness that aims for results. Economist Jan Schnellenbach put it aptly: "Performance orientation does not mean following the rules of the organization, which are outdated, but focusing on what comes out of the work." The question of performance and productivity also drives Tim Höttges when it comes to the future in a new, hybrid working world: "It's already not about presence. Rather, it's about results."
To achieve this, companies must see themselves as a community. Because people need a meaningful social structure in order to perform well. Management thinker Henry Mintzberg recognized this ten years ago. (By the way, offices will play an important role as places of encounter in the future. We will take a closer look at this topic in a later article within this special).
Leaders need to rethink their role
Regardless of their hierarchical position, leaders should see themselves as pioneers of change that others then drive forward. And they must not regard employees as human resources that can be replaced at will. "We need good leadership," says Birgit Bohle. It must be people-oriented and emphatic. That's what's in the "Leading differently" guard rail. She says the crisis has shown that we at Telekom have put people even more at the center of things: "People First". "For me, this is also one of the most important insights of the past year in terms of leadership," says Birgit Bohle. "Our people give it back to us - in commitment and performance."
No back to normal
One thing is certain: There will be no “back to normal” for each of us. We will work differently to a large extent. This development is now continuing rapidly and affects each of us. With its New Work approach Deutsche Telekom can become a forerunner in the future of work - as in many other fields as well.