New Work and Old Leadership: Recipe For Disaster

A post by Swen Rehders, Managing Director of NTT DATA Deutschland GmbH

“New Work” – at the CIO Move Roundtable in Zurich, it became clear that this buzzword has very different associations. At first glance, “new work” is difficult to grasp as a vision or strategy. But there was one thing our roundtable agreed on: fancy offices and free goodies alone are not enough.

According to Bitkom, there were already 96,000 open IT positions last year with a rising trend. Gartner also stated in spring 2022 that more than 70 percent of CIOs will have a shortage of skilled workers in the next twelve months. These are facts that only reinforce the thesis that employees, and not employers, currently determine the labour market.

For IT executives, this means that if they do nothing, they will not only fail to attract new employees – also they can lose experts and valuable resources.

Three success factors

Is there a recipe for success?

  1. Flexibility is key: Companies have different starting points. Take hybrid work for example: here, it is often necessary to first adapt existing company agreements to the new requirements in the digital world of work and to jointly overcome any reservations.
  2. Leadership is more than pure technical expertise: The requirements and tasks of managers have changed significantly. In times of predominantly digital collaboration, we need new approaches to strengthening team spirit, employee’s company loyalty and overall the employee experience.
  3. Creativity is just as important as efficiency: Is one office day per week enough? You can’t really give a general answer for this. When it comes to working off specific tasks, “home office” is a good place to be. But for creativity, and with it innovation, is challenging for many in a virtual collaboration. Thus, the place of work should be flexible according to the respective goal and participants.

NTT DATA: The four dimensions of New Work

These considerations show: New Work is an ongoing task. It demands a constant willingness and openness to change from the entire company. To ensure its success, we actively take our colleagues along on the journey. At NTT DATA, we are responding to the changes in the world of work driven by digitalization, generational change and pandemics with our own program.

The four dimensions of New Work: Leadership, Communication, Collaboration, and Infrastructure. Source: Talentista Now. It is based on a framework developed by Hybrid Work Expert Prof. Dr. Johanna Bath from Talentista Now and consists of four dimensions: Leadership, Communication, Collaboration and Infrastructure.

Leadership: The new way of working also requires a new kind of (self-)leadership. It’s all about connecting vision, strategy, values and goals. In this way, our employees know how to contribute to the success of the company and act in accordance with their roles.

Communication: The key here is to continuously make work communication more efficient and effective – whether internally or with customers. This includes concrete initiatives that limit the number of meetings and messages to enable focused work.

Collaboration: We encourage networking as well as working in cross-functional teams. We increase employee satisfaction in terms of methods, tools, equipment & infrastructure with a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) approach, facilitating virtual collaboration.

Infrastructure: This factor allows us to carry out our activities in the new way of working in the best possible way. It includes the design of the office space, but also the digital workplace and the processes that are becoming increasingly important in a hybrid working model.

Not only finding, but also retaining

As an employer, we don’t just want to attract (IT) talents, we want to retain them for the long term. That’s why we are constantly working to bring the four dimensions to life. The spectrum ranges from a leadership curriculum that intensively prepares prospective leaders for their role, to concrete offers for more flexible working. For instance, at NTT DATA, employees have the opportunity to work in any European country for 120 days.

My conclusion to the exchange at CIO Move: Classic hierarchies, one-fits-all and traditional management styles have had their day. New Work, understood in its multidimensionality, is one of the most important factors on the way to becoming an attractive employer and thus a successful company.