New Work – what now? Guests at the #FutureWorkDebatte call for greater emphasis on “Digital Culture”
Munich, 14 December 2022
The last #FutureWorkDebatte of the year on 30 November focused on the topic “New Work”. In discussion with acatech’s Human Resources Working Group co-host Frank Riemensperger, the invitees traced the developments in New Work during the pandemic, and gave recommendations on what cultural changes are now needed in German companies.
Two years of Covid-19 triggered a turning point in the working environment: hybrid working became the new norm. After the first lockdown in spring 2020, things moved quickly: within a matter of days remote working was introduced across the board, leaving no time for companies or government agencies to plan implementation properly.
”‘Remote First’ is the imperative of our new reality. For firms to survive these times of change they need to be flexible.”
Raphael Gielgen, Trendscout Future of Work Life & Learn, Vitra GmbH
This changeover, said emcee Frank Riemensperger at the #FutureWorkDebatte on 30 November, marked the start of the first of two phases the working environment has gone through since then. “Out of necessity at the time we changed everything overnight and then bit by bit we got used to the new norm. However, no conscious effort went into the creation of this new working environment. This is only happening now, in phase two, when the pandemic is all but over but one certainty remains: the new forms of work are here to stay.” It is time to actively shape the working environment, declared the acatech Executive Board member.
Guests see different ways to go about establishing a “Digital Culture”
Panellist and Human Resources Working Group member Petra Scharner-Wolf, member of the Executive Board of the Otto Group with responsibility for Finance, Controlling and Human Resources, shared this opinion, “Shaping the working environment of the future means not being afraid to experiment. All those involved must adopt this attitude, including the social partners. None of us have a blueprint, so we are learning from one another by experimenting.”
“There will be no business transformation without a cultural transformation – the topics of leadership, methods of working and working space must be considered in combination.”
Sigrid Stinnes, Innovation & Design Lead, Accenture D-A-CH
Norbert Gaus, Executive Vice President for Research and Development for Digitalization and Automation at Siemens Corporate Technology, is also calling for change, “One of the main foundations for a forward-looking and flexible work model is developing the corporate culture. This entails a trust-based management style, where managers actively empower workers to contribute to the best of their ability – for the sake of the company, customers and society.”
Emcee Frank Riemensperger summed up by saying, “A ‘Digital Culture’ is needed in German companies. It must be based on principles of autonomy as well as patterns of behaviour that are key to the success of the digital transformation. All decision-makers in companies, but also social partners and politicians, must pull together. This is the only way workers can become active stakeholders in the change.”
Beyond the horizon: working in the metaverse
To bring about this change, therefore, there is a good deal of work to do on the situation as it stands. Despite that, to finish up the #FutureWorkDebatte, the participants hazarded a guess at what the distant future of work might look like: the metaverse will play an important role as the digital space in which people will be able to interact with one another with the aid of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies through avatars they create themselves. The metaverse opens up “exciting new possibilities in some sectors for sure,” said Petra Scharner-Wolff. Going forward, however, it will continue to be important to be inclusive in our thinking and action to involve in the digital transformation all workers in and with their different working realities as best possible.
Recording of the event (in German)
About the debate series Fit for Future Work
Current impulses from acatech’s Human Resources Working Group are zeroing in on how a good working relationship can work and how digitalisation can go from bugbear and suspected job-killer to an opportunity for good work. In its debate series “Fit for Future Work” the Human Resources Working Group puts forward its perspectives for public discussion. The latest information and positions surrounding the debate series are available on social media: