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Innovation

Brave new working world: Will everything keep changing?

In the age of digitalisation, work environments change rapidly. A company that employs the right concept to seize the opportunities of change and that gets its employees on board by addressing them appropriately will be able to shape the future in a way that creates value for the company.

Robots in manufacturing, artificial intelligence and even greater automation of work processes – is that the future of work? A future in which people play an increasingly smaller role? Studies tell another story and give the all-clear: The working world will indeed undergo considerable change, but human labour will remain important. It’s just the tasks that will change.

Digitalisation of everyday working life

Constant availability via e-mail, text message and messenger services like WhatsApp, the ability to use a smartphone to get relevant information any time and anywhere and a wide range of digital devices – that has become the norm for many people. All of this provides for greater flexibility and mobility. Employees can perform tasks at the right point in the work process – no matter whether or not they are currently at their desk.

As a consequence, companies and employees have the joint task of maintaining a healthy work-life-balance. Working around the clock reduces productivity. In contrast, the freedom to use digital services even outside of the office environment – at least to a healthy degree – improves employee satisfaction. If companies manage to integrate new, digital work and communication methods well with their existing processes, they benefit from noticeable increases in efficiency.

Are your employees ready for the future of work? You bet!

Baby boomers and Generation X – that is, people who were born either between 1950 and 1965 or between 1965 and 1980 – have experienced more technological changes in their private and working lives than any other age group. In a short space of time, they first managed to master the computer as a new daily work tool and then the Internet. There is a high probability that members of these age groups have a smartphone and use online services and mobile apps in their everyday lives. From punch tape at the university computer centre via the home computers of the 1980s through to online banking and social media – digital pre-natives have certainly met the challenge of handling new applications and processes successfully.

People from the follow-up generation, known as millennials or Generation Y, already had the Internet and today’s digital work tools – from PCs and notebooks to smartphones – at their disposal as young adults. Because these young people employ tools like that so frequently, they are generally considered experts as regards their use – a misconception as it is often the older generation that considers questions like “Why am I using a service?” and “How do I use this application meaningfully?”.

So who is better suited to coping with the developments in the working world? There is no definite answer to this question because digital skills are distributed unevenly across all age groups. It is therefore important to involve all employees in the process of making the necessary changes and thus establish a new overall structure of cooperation.

The digital transformation is only a technological issue on the surface; in actual fact, it is a question of personnel policy and leadership skills. Experienced employees have hybrid skills: They are familiar with current industry issues and analogue processes. The younger generation, on the other hand, adopts technical innovations more quickly and recognises the advantages a little earlier. Ever shorter cycles of change in society and the economy cannot be dealt with in a few change and innovation workshops. Transformation is now an ongoing task for a company's management and employees – and thus for the entire corporate culture.

Success factors

The perspective: agile development methods and collaboration with customers

What will become increasingly important in tomorrow’s working world is cooperation between the right people and use of suitable digital tools that provide for productive teamwork and transparency both within the company and towards customers. Digitalisation goes beyond the confines of the company: The cooperation with partners and customers follows a digital path too, creating new methods for effective collaborative work.

This also comprises a culture of trial and error: Failed attempts are allowed, with all parties learning from them and working together on optimising the initial idea. This approach coupled with an ongoing dialogue enables products to be developed more quickly.

Shaping the transformation: life-phase-oriented personnel policy rather than technology

All measures on the path to new work environments and new working methods should be continuously checked for suitability. This can also be done externally: For example, in 2014, Aareon developed a concept for a sustainable, life-phase-oriented personnel policy, which has since been implemented step by step.

The reward for this holistic concept: Being awarded with the INQA audit certificate (INQA = New Quality of Work Initiative) by the Bertelsmann Foundation. Under the umbrella of this initiative, federal and state governments, employers’ associations and chambers, labour unions, the Federal Employment Agency and social insurance agencies as well as foundations and companies campaign for a modern work culture and personnel policy. The certificate issued at the end of the audit serves as confirmation that the company in question has dealt intensively with topics like human resource management, equal opportunities, diversity, health and knowledge development.

In the end, however, the objective of introducing new work environments is not just to provide a feel-good factor but also to increase productivity within the company. One thing that all experts agree on is that an integrated concept with the right combination of digitalisation, workplace design and cultural change is required to be successful.

Shaping the transformation takes courage

Digitalisation has a massive impact on the business of housing companies. Aareon is facing up to the transformation and offers its Aareon Smart World portfolio to help housing companies successfully introduce their employees and business partners to the trends and opportunities of digitalisation.

With the right tools to increase efficiency and optimise processes and above all with the courage to take the necessary steps for a transformation, digitalisation is even possible for small and medium-sized companies. This is their opportunity to steer their employees onto the right track and provide them with the required skills – without losing the momentum of change in large hierarchies and lengthy coordination cycles.

Find the complete article including many practical examples and related links in the AareonMAG (German):

--> Schöne neue Arbeitswelt: Bleibt alles anders? Die Zukunft der Arbeit in die Hand nehmen und agil gestalten

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