Mobile work and home office are on everyone’s lips, but there are increasing voices that agility and spatial distance are not optimal in the long run. This reasoning is based on the fact that cooperation requires a certain amount of trust. The agile coach says in my roundtable: Trust develops from person to person, not from screen to screen. “
For this reason, numerous office concepts in the form of new buildings are currently being tested by corporations and medium-sized companies. In the following I would like to introduce the concepts of my roundtable participants and show initial findings in their daily work with them. If you need some prior knowledge, you can read these articles:

NewWork using the example of an IT group

The creation of software is a process that involves a high degree of division of labor. Those involved have to think in a networked way and react quickly to changing requirements – be it due to customer requests or legal changes, according to the group manager. For this reason, better networking and cooperation should arise with a new building. There are various meeting rooms of all kinds as well as rooms for fitness, an orchard and a work surface in the outdoor area. There is also customer support in-house. “The entire building is made for communication and movement,” said the manager of the IT group in my roundtable.
Before building the concept, we tested various pilot concepts together with 120 employees. For this we rented a building and every employee who applied was allowed to work on one of the concepts for two weeks and give us feedback. Our new NewWork concept arose from this.
During the subsequent tour of the IT group’s building, the seating arrangements in the open space could be observed. Teams often sat close together and small “team islands” could be noticed, according to the managers of the IT group. A “Jump Day” concept was designed so that these islands could not establish themselves permanently. Every employee is required to change jobs and teams on this day. Jump Day takes place once a year to ensure a balance between security and change, says the manager of the IT group. The agile coach of the IT group also assesses an advantage in the room occupation and invalidates the prejudice that fewer employees have space: The agile coach of the IT group also assesses an advantage in the room occupation and invalidates the prejudice that fewer employees have space have: “I think it was around 70% where on average you have a cast at all. So 30% are free on average. And even if working from home is of course no problem for us, we often also approve. There are[auch] no core working hours, you can come whenever you want with us. “

NewWork using the example of a sporting goods manufacturer

In return, the sporting goods manufacturer also presented the design of the NewWork concept. There are no permanent jobs here either. “There is a fitness studio for employees as well as opportunities for other sporting activities. With the help of a building that is a few 100 meters away from the HQ, we are constantly testing new office concepts. There are permanently 3 different concepts on 3 floors, which we are successively trying out. Up to 300 employees are able to test the concepts. For example, the mixture of sports hall and office or a mixture of shared apartment and office will be tested there, ”said the representative of the sporting goods manufacturer.
This is supplemented by various areas for work, such as highly creative, quiet and team areas. It is important to create the right place for every activity. Working in a digital context in particular is highly creative and, according to the manager, can no longer be carried out from a traditional desk alone. “The vision is to create an atmosphere that promotes flexibility and cooperation and breaks down hierarchies,” said the manufacturer’s representative.
For the company, it’s about getting faster and promoting creativity and innovation, said the representative. At the beginning the Flexidesk principle met with a lot of resistance, but if you look now, not all desks are occupied and the meeting rooms are always full. “It is communicated and networked. This ensures agility and speed and ultimately I have the feeling that it is also space-saving because many are somehow also in the home office on Friday or sometimes in the home office for two days.

NewWork using the example of an IT data center service provider

The SME participants have also already designed their first concepts for open spaces in the company. These mostly result from a planned renovation of the building. The IT data center service provider is also presenting its concept.
In the course of a renovation, an office space was converted into an open space concept together with a service provider and the inclusion of feedback from employees. Zones were created for highly concentrated, calm and creative work and teamwork. The aim was to offer the right workplace for every activity. “Working in IT in particular requires a high degree of flexibility, quick reactions and the incorporation of changes,” says the in-house consultant. “The aim is to create a suitable zone for every job. For highly concentrated work you can either go to the desk or go to our area with various beanbags with headphones. We have set up special areas for quiet work and set up a think tank for creative work groups. Since every employee has a laptop, it is easy to find a new job every hour ”, the consultant continues.
The entrepreneur’s consultant sees the concept as a success and is now planning to gradually renovate more areas in order to create more office space especially for concentrated work. In data center operations in particular, it is important to act quickly and effectively in the event of unwanted failures or updates in order to maintain an availability of 99.9%. According to the consultant, we can become faster and more agile, especially through new concepts.

Conclusion on NEwWork

It cannot currently be assumed that the concepts presented are already in a final stage. Especially in office concepts and mobile work, there are numerous open questions that need to be dealt with
The representative of the trade union from the roundtable is currently carrying out a more in-depth evaluation. The focus of this evaluation was the influence on the efficiency and the health burden. The implementation of NewWork and agile methods is often and gladly mentioned in his breath. The first samples show that the number of burnout cases examined cannot be related to agile methods or new office concepts, according to the union’s executive committee. There is also a higher level of communication and agility through new concepts.
However, according to the union’s board of directors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to perceive incorrect and overloading of employees and to protect them. New topics such as technostress due to constant availability and information overload due to a large amount of data are also increasing. These phenomena in particular are new and go hand in hand with increasing digitization and increased communication, which is also promoted specifically by new office concepts.
However, these studies are only random samples and not very informative, limited by the union’s executive committee. It is still exciting how the development of the Newwork will continue and what long-term consequences can be derived. To further develop these concepts, the union is in constant dialogue with the member companies and takes regular trips to the Silicon Valley.

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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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