I read a comment the other day that in addition to the whole discussion about New Work, there should also be a discussion about New Performance. Or another posting that you have to work besides all the New Work because you get paid for it. Either this is a new narrative to discredit New Work, or it is a misunderstanding. New Work is not an addition or benefit in the form of cosy offices and 4-day weeks.
However, if you are not familiar with New Work and have never met a team that uses these methods to increase efficiency, then I can very well imagine that this impression is likely to arise. New Work is not about performance versus benefits. Professor Peter Kruse once said that self-organisation is the highest form of professionalism. That really emphasises a core aspect of New Work.
For me, it was also quite a learning curve that began in 2016 out of considerations of efficiency in the team. Back then, I was a perfectly ordinary hierarchical team lead in a presales unit. I assigned people to tenders and prioritised their work. If someone fell ill, I had to organise a replacement. Back then, I couldn’t imagine what the team would look like after a few years.
Developing lean-agile methods with the team and increasing diversity in the team was a long journey with many setbacks and moments when I wanted to give up. But there were also moments when team members encouraged me. I remember small moments of triumph and a great moment of happiness after about 3 years.
It was a summer’s day when a colleague called me to say there was a new tender and she just wanted to inform me. She was obviously acting without a mandate. What she had done was an enormous organisational feat, as all the teams had a heavy workload. I called everyone involved and asked if they were in agreement, and they all assured me in unison that we could handle it.
At that time, we were managing around twice as much work as three years before. With good maturity in self-organisation, better methods of our own, less waste in the system, etc. By the way, we were also able to generate twice as much revenue in our division as three years previously. That is New Work.
New Work makes people happy because they are valued as a whole person with all their skills. Because you can achieve things in a team that you would never have managed on your own. Because you get inspiration and can contribute more intensively than you could have imagined last week, and much more too.
Sofas, table football, punching bags, fitness studio etc. are all nice and well, but have little to do with New Work. Such benefits are perhaps even better suited to no-compromise management. In this case, performance is more of a duty that generates output and not outcome.