Is technology the answer? This is – in summary – the central question of a remarkable article recently published by business analyst Den Howlett. The text is based on Siemens’ decision to establish the home office as the standard for more than half of their employees worldwide, thereby transforming their corporate culture. Other large corporations, such as Allianz, have now followed suit with similar announcements.
The discussion about home office is never just about working remotely. The question of how organizations will work after the pandemic has far-reaching consequences – not only for the economy as a whole, but also in terms of a new work-life reality for hundreds of thousands of employees.
The little difference: American and german company culture
Howlett asks: Will the New Normal, as corporations interpret it, really improve the lives and working conditions of many people in the long term? Or will it lead to additional stress and unemployment?
This question is, you might say, “typically American”. Because the understanding of New Work and the transformation of the working world in the US region is different from that in this country. Many digital trends, as they regularly wash over from Silicon Valley, are either totally hyped or totally slammed. Thumbs up or thumbs down, all or nothing. More often than not, big new trends are followed by even bigger disenchantment. But this engrained enthusiasm in American corporate culture also means that U.S. companies give “trial and error” a much higher value. They don’t just celebrate trends and new work models, but also implement them relatively quickly, even at the risk of failing.
German companies, on the other hand, tend to thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of any change before making a conscious decision to modify existing structures and processes. As a result, change processes often take a very long time. You could say that American organizations are more inclined to act on their gut feeling, while Germans tend to make more rational head decisions.
With that in mind, Howletts analysis is particularly interesting to read, as it reveals learnings from both cultures. The article makes it clear that, in the future, organizations will need both gut and head, namely:
- the courage to forge new paths even if the result is not 100% predictable,
- a high level of awareness for the safety and well-being of the workforce and
- keeping an eye on the numbers.
New Work must bring measurable success
The last point in particular can be applied equally to both German and US companies: In the end it’s all about the money. Only when the numbers work, only when the philanthropic, innovative, liberal and agile approaches in organizations produce measurable results for productivity and the company’s bottom line, will they last.
Howlett therefore sees the financial sector, but also finance departments in companies, as an indicator for the successful implementation of new digital working methods. If these manage to carry out their transformation profitably, others can safely follow suit.
New tasks and skills for employees
However, digitization with a focus on efficiency and profit increase unfortunately may mean that certain human activities become redundant. In this context, Howlett emphasizes how important “reskilling” and “upskilling” are in transformation processes, when organizations do not simply want to automate jobs (with negative consequences for the overall economy), but attach importance to further development and sustainable transformation with their employees. And this is where our Tandemploy SaaS comes into play. Howlett believes that it covers the three essential areas of activity mentioned at the beginning:
- Courage: Our SaaS allows organizations to test new work models with a low threshold and to implement them both bottom-up and top-down, thus creating broad acceptance within the company.
- Security and Wellbeing: The software promotes self-efficacy and well-being of the workforce, as it consistently unites organizational needs and employee wishes.
- Measurable efficiency: It aims to increase productivity by bringing skills and tasks together to meet current challenges and needs.
People and technology: Performance is key
Change, Howlett concludes, is inevitable. Technology, as he explains using the example of the Tandemploy software, provides an important part of the answer as to what a New Normal can look like and how it can be implemented. It helps companies to rethink and adapt their understanding of work, to reconnect people more strongly with their work and to (finally) treat them like humans again instead of just like “human resources”. But we also have to understand that even a New Normal is about the bottom line. In the end, everyone is measured by their performance – whether human or technology. Companies like Siemens now have the chance to show that the numbers add up.