dotmagazine: What does New Work mean for you?
MELANIE BUCK: For me, there are five main factors that define New Work: flexibility, autonomy, freedom to act, self fulfilment, and giving back to the community.
When it comes to flexibility, this includes working hours and workplaces, of course, but also flatter hierarchies which allow everyone more freedom to act. Having freedom to make decisions, to work autonomously, to be allowed to make mistakes and to learn from them makes a huge difference to the individuals – and in the end to the success of a company.
I think people don’t just work to earn money. Rather, they want to know why they are going to work and what the purpose of the company and their individual work is. This was the case in the past as well – but not as much as it is today and as it will be in future. It’s no longer simply about going to work, earning money, and going back home again anymore.
The final factor is having the opportunity to give something back to the community. This is a big change that we see today. This often takes the form of social and environmental responsibility.
Again, it covers the idea that the company is not only there to make money, but also to do something good. And people want to be part of this, and they also want to do something good for the community, for people around them, and in general for the planet we are living on.
dot: In your opinion, are tech companies taking a lead in developing New Work strategies or do they need to catch up? And do you see a difference between different countries or geographical regions?
BUCK: Tech companies should take a leading role. But for many companies, topics like New Work are still new and something where they need to catch up. For initiatives like New Work, new strategies are needed, and you need a lot of new technology to be able to truly work in the way that New Work should function. Of course, there should be people in tech companies who love new technologies and tools and are good at inventing and using them, right? That's why we should take a leading role in making it successful in the end.
I work for GoDaddy, and we’re a global company with offices all over the world. For us, it's critical to be able to work from different places according to different working hours to keep in touch – and that's also part of New Work. It’s about flexibility as well as the freedom and need to act in whichever way is needed to complete projects and stay successful. I'm happy that New Work principles and new ways of digitalization give us ideas for how we can improve this.
dot: What do you see as the main challenges when implementing New Work strategies or principles in a company?
BUCK: There are many challenges, but there are two that come to my mind directly. The first one is that you need to consider different cultures and different generations. Most people growing up now want and like this new and modern way of working. But you always have different generations in the company, including people who are a bit older.
Older employees sometimes react in different ways when changes are made to the working environment. They often have a very structured way of thinking when it comes to work, and they have this idea of working from 9 to 5, for example, and going to work and meeting the team every day.
It's very important to see both worlds, both generations, and to undertake change management around this to keep everybody motivated and happy. It’s not easy, but it's very important. Otherwise you run the risk of losing valuable staff.
The other challenge is keeping teams together and maintaining the team spirit. Becoming more flexible, and allowing employees to work from wherever and whenever they want, makes it hard to keep the team together. So, it’s necessary to look for creative solutions.
Those solutions depend on the team – on their needs and their kind of work. One option could be having one or two days a week where everybody should be in the office – so something like a defined presence time. This of course only works if the team member doesn’t live too far away from the office, of course. I appreciate the new options available in the digital world – like video conferencing tools – but this does not completely replace the required face to face time required to keep communication and relationships running. You need to find the right way for your team to give them enough freedom but also to keep them together.
dot: New Work principles are often communicated as benefits for employees, but what are the central benefits for the companies?
BUCK: The first point is that you have a wider recruiting field because candidates don't need to live in the same city that your company is located in. If you allow them to work from home, for example, then you can have people from a much larger geographical catchment area working for you. Of course, in this case you still need to consider the points I mentioned before – regarding maintaining the team spirit.
In addition, you might be able to recruit people who normally would not apply for a job because of the working hours – for example, young parents who are also caring for a family. And if you allow them to have flexible hours – working in the evening for a couple of hours and the rest during the day – this makes it easier for them. There are so many talents that you can't get without this flexibility because standard working hours are simply not feasible for them.
What’s more, I think you get really ambitious and motivated people if you give them a little freedom, flexibility, and a meaningful job. This way they are very motivated and often go the extra mile. This is a question of give and take. If you give a bit more, you receive a lot more.
dot: What is your vision for how we will be working in five to 10 years’ time?
BUCK: We are in the middle of a big transformation when it comes to the working environment and how we work. Many jobs that exist now will no longer exist in 10 years, and new jobs will emerge. Artificial intelligence and automation make a huge difference here, and people should be aware of this already occurring transformation. So, everybody should be aware and open to explore new horizons!
Ways of communicating will change as well – today we already have so many possibilities. If I look back to when I started working, I did not use video conferencing systems for example. And I did not have five different apps on my mobile phone to communicate and chat. So much changed in the last 20 years, and I think there is so much more to come. I’m looking forward to the future – it’s gonna be exciting!
I am still waiting for one invention. Do you remember the Star Trek phrase: “Beam me up, Scotty”? This would be so great and so effective. You wouldn’t have to take flights to get somewhere and you’d have so much more time you could spend for whatever you love. And you would have so much more face-to-face time also in business, instead of only joining video conferencing calls or spending a lot of time on planes and trains. Wouldn’t that be great?
dot: As a stepping stone towards that future, what do you think about the use of virtual reality for meetings? More than simply having a video conference, being in a virtual reality setting so that it felt like we were in the same room. Do you expect VR technology to be applied to business?
BUCK: Oh yes, that would improve meetings a lot and I think it's fun for everybody to try out these new technologies to see how they work. I think that’s already coming in the mid-term, as in general it already exists. It is not common yet and maybe not developed far enough to use it in our everyday life in the business world. That would still not be the same as beaming to a meeting, but it’s a first step in the right direction.
Melanie Buck is Chief of Staff of GoDaddy EMEA and acts as strategic advisor to the Head of EMEAs, coordinating strategic initiatives to drive GoDaddy's business development in EMEA. Besides this her passion lies in supporting and coaching young people in their career – with a focus on women to help them grow and achieve their goals. She has also rolled out GoDaddy's Women in Tech initiative in Europe. With more than 15 years of professional experience in the IT industry, she is herself an experienced leader as well as a "Woman in Tech" who is actively committed to more diversity and equality.
Please note: The opinions expressed in Industry Insights published by dotmagazine are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the publisher, eco – Association of the Internet Industry.