NewWork or Digital Slaves? 8 Tips - Work the way you really, really want


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Industry 4.0 and New Work are the central keywords in the current discussion about the working world of the future. Many fears are connected with it, but also the chance to work the way “you really, really want to”. 8 tips on how you can actually implement this in your current job.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Fear of automation?

The subject of digitization and automation is on everyone's lips - and with it many fears, such as losing one's job to a robot or sinking into a huge flood of data.

And in fact there are problems in this connection that can probably only be solved politically, such as the social security of many people in precarious jobs - the Ueber driving service, for example, has made the headlines here. Even digital prophets like Sascha Lobo, who wrote the Bible of the Digital Bohemian with “We call it work”, have now recognized that the changing world of work also has many disadvantages brings with it.

New Work: Unleashing Human Potential

But there is also a positive view of the subject that emphasizes opportunities, creates a more humane work environment and gives everyone the opportunity to realize their potential.

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But what is it supposed to be, this New Work? The discoverer of the New Work approach, philosophyprofessor Frithjof Bergmann, according to Wikipedia, first made his way through price boxers, assembly line and dock workers before studying philosophy at Princton. So you can believe him that he had not only got to know working life from the sunniest side and in fact he founded his first center for new work in the Autostadt Flint in Michigan. Incidentally, he sees his model as an alternative to capitalism.

At the New Work Experience recently organized by Xing in Berlin, he was now formulated as a guest speaker and self-motivation as the central question of New Work: Every employee should ask himself “What do I really, really want to do?” and used it to create his own world of work. Drawn my attention to the event by the way, Lars Hahn with his contribution to Xing.

What the individual can change

Now you will argue that this is not so easy - for example, because the framework must be right because employers must introduce the new culture of work from above, because the policy must first create binding rules and and.

As I said before, it is not completely wrong - and yet there are some points that every single person can implement in concrete terms in order to work better, more freely and more independently. How to do that, I've been using in some of my media before 10 years ago Bestselling book titled “The 110% Lie” described. The book was already making waves at that time, it was translated at the time into several languages ​​and has me in an ARD talkshow guided.

With New Work's exaggerated perfection

Today, the book theme “Perfectionism” is more topical than ever: Because automation, if we don't take countermeasures, forces us to work more and more perfectly and efficiently, and individual employees are becoming more and more controllable and manipulable. In the course of trends such as quantified self, self-optimization and comparative addiction are practiced more and more violently in social media. Company try to check the perfect suitability of employees long before the recruitment.

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Indeed, even digital nomads, who are looking for great freedom to the other end of the world, can hardly escape digital printing. At the same time, working culture in Germany suffers from obsolete, established structures in many places. A healthy culture of mistakes is often sought in vain and the German economy risks losing the digital connection internationally because of the lack of innovative power.

I deliberately exaggerate a bit, after all, the post should remain exciting. The perfidious thing about this development is that the claim to perfection, which is much praised in Germany in particular, hampers and even hampers success in working life enormously. After all, whoever wants to be perfect at all costs does not work motivated in the flow, but anxiety-driven and under pressure - and that's why communication so important for success suffers so often. Pressure instead of flow - that's pretty much the opposite of New Work and this is where every single one can counteract by making himself aware of the psychological mechanisms.

8 Tips for New Work: How to work as you really, really want

There are some very simple measures that everyone can take for themselves. I have listed 8 points here, with which “Working as you really, really want” is a big step closer.

1. When am I good enough?

In my opinion one of the basic problems with the whole thing: The question "when did I actually work enough"? We used to have employers and time clocks, and when they hit you dropped the stylus (or any other device). End of working day!

Today, home office is becoming increasingly popular and more and more companies are introducing models where employees can determine working time and place themselves. Sounds great, but the new freedom also makes employees more responsible to determine when their work is good enough.

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Studies show that this is very difficult for them and many employees tend to work more and more, they do not tell them when it is good enough, on the contrary, employers even calculate with this overhang; I'm thinking Richard Bransonwho introduced employees to be able to go on holiday as long as they want - in practice, most of them take less vacation than before.

This is exactly what happened to me at the beginning of my career: In my only permanent position, I took the term “core working hours” quite literally - my boss at the time was anything but enthusiastic. I would have liked to start earlier in the morning because I wanted to have something of the day, but explain that to someone who is nocturnal ;-)

When I started my own job in my dream job, I thought I should finally be happy. But puff cake, the supposed dream job turned into a nightmare because I sat on the computer for 12 hours and more. I was shortly before the burnout, including my first stomach complaints in my late 20s. And so I inevitably learned to say “no” more and more often to poorly paid orders, unfriendly customers or other energy vampires. For me it was the hardest part of being self-employed.

Therefore, today I am convinced that it is not necessarily important what one works, but how. In other words, almost every job can be a dream job, if you only optimize the working conditions a bit. By the way, this has also been a book author Christiane Nill-Theobald recognized. So here is my tip from my own experience:

What you can do specifically:

Always keep in mind that your work is good enough. If you work doggedly and frantically to complete a task: Take a break and ask yourself deliberately: What exactly would happen if this work were not finished or executed as accurately as intended? In many cases this is far less serious than expected. So just take a deep breath, better just go for a walk and air your head - then the world will not look so problematic anymore. Believe me, it helps!

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2. Do not worry about automation

Automation - many people are afraid of being replaced by robots in the workplace. Some experts even predict that in 20 years, 50 will fall victim to digitization jobs. How great these fears are, I always notice auh that appropriate posts on Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® frequently clicked, liked, linked and commented - about this contribution to the Automation of the working world or just last week this text about Automation in recruiting.

This issue is, of course, also discussed politically. A frequently-mentioned approach is the Basic Basic Income for all, but the problem goes deeper, far beyond financial aspects. Work is a value in our society and no one feels in our society despite social security.

What you can do specifically:

Make yourself aware that the fact that work is such an important part of our life, which not only serves to earn a living, but also offers meaningful identification, is not a “God-given” state: Rather, it is the result of social development over the past 300 years, Keyword Protestant work ethic - and this awareness can and must change again in the course of digitization.

So deliberately look for a meaningful balance to your “bread job” that offers you joy, social interaction and variety. Focus specifically on properties that distinguish humans from robots, namely empathy and human orientation - something that is big Competence metastudy according to many executives. Which surprise!

3. Communicate clearly what you want!

Not least the Election victory of Donald Trump shows that simple, understandable communication is more important than ever in the digital age. Yes, even more, who wants to succeed, the constant self-presentation until the abandonment of their own dignity is advised - the stars from the jungle camp, Yotube and Instagram show how they reach millions with embarrassing self-presentation.

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For many workers, especially in Germany, who prefer working diligently and silently at the desk, this increasing narcissism in social networks is rather strange. And one quickly wonders: When is actually the border between self-marketing and cheating exceeded. Again, point 1 applies: In a working world of your own you decide for yourself when something is enough - and in the worst case, you simply have to live with the consequences.

What you can do specifically:

Even if it seems to be getting used to in the first moment: Good work, which no one perceives, goes bogged down correctly. You should therefore focus on your successes, eg in meetings, you are more communicative and more charming. Sounds trite, but for many people focused on efficiency is a problem.

Attention: This does not mean that you have to cross the boundaries of stupidity and placative self-marketing, but a little more self-praise (than many have done) has not hurt anyone yet.

It is also helpful to communicate clearly what you want - and what not - to your fellow human beings. As a matter of fact, a great many people are gaging around the bush instead of saying what they want. But many people do not understand this (or do not want to understand it?). You will be surprised what suddenly everything works, if you clearly but calmly and factually, say what you want. And it is also much more enjoyable for everyone else than when you suddenly and surprisingly freak out in frustration, because you have increasingly eaten your anger into yourself. I speak from my own experience!

4. Away with self-optimizing mania and comparative addiction

It is especially noticeable at Instagram where I am constantly confronted with fitness and weight loss photos, but in Facebook the status messages from the last 10KM run nervous me some remote contact. And I wonder what that is.

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The fact is: In the past, managers and other career-oriented people had to perform well, today they also have to look good and run a marathon - Quantified Self sends its regards. Just think about how often the media make fun of the appearance of Mrs. Merkel. And then we are equal to the exaggerated, unrealistic ideals of beauty, which women see themselves exposed to in social media. For these convey and surpass the natural, human desire to compare themselves through the striking self-presentation. Envy and social stress are virtually inevitable and then everyone is horrified when killed in the net bullied youth.

What you can do specifically:

Be clear that other people can only boil with water and that in social media you often only perceive the beautiful facades and success stories, but not the stress and the effort behind them. You can also turn back a tooth yourself and talk with other people about the downs in your own and other people's lives. Remember, we are all human beings, not robots!

5. Demstressen - but please voluntarily!

Those who are relaxed and not overwhelmed, work better and more motivated, so to speak, in the flow. Even companies have long recognized this and want to put their employees through the perfect working environment into a state of constant creativity.

To this end, they lure with kicking tables, hip games offices and community holidays. However, many employees would prefer a higher salary. And how healthy is the compulsion to have to have a lot of fun at work?

What you can do specifically:

This tip comes from mine Interview with Fionula Meehan, Sales Director of Google Ireland That is, the company that was one of the first to order its employees quasi-targeted fun in the workplace. She deliberately avoids recreational activities with colleagues; instead of going to the company gym she goes for a walk to switch off, for example. In addition, she structures her working day in such a way that she leaves the office after 8 hours and can eat with her children in the evening.

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6. No longer work like a robot

Perfection and efficiency are all well and good, but more and more people have to adapt their work habits to digital systems: This starts with search engine optimization - who does not present his content perfectly for the content of Google has the disadvantage and continues with the custom-fit of Content in content management systems.

Here, too, I can take my own nose from time to time, because I spend a lot of time automating this blog as error-free as possible. And it probably sounds with keyloggers. With their help, clients can record the working behavior of their work slaves, pardon, service providers on computers. Humans adapt to the algorithms, not vice versa. And quickly it is over for the self-employed with the beautiful, new world of work freedom.

What you can do specifically:

Political solutions to these problems are probably needed. However, there is an individual component here: "The worst thing you can do in our society is to let yourself go" I was reading somewhere. Indeed, there are innumerable guides that encourage more efficiency and order.

Countermeasures help to escape the rigid perfection mania. Sometimes - not always - it's just nice and humane to do something crazy or chaotic, rather than always having to work. Because people just learn from mistakes and often enough in the course of history, coincidence led to great innovations. And sometimes the craziest, funniest things happen on the way to a destination. So do not always stubbornly pursue your own goals, but just look from time to time to the right and left of the path.

7. Escape the spy in the bathroom

Data is considered the weapon of 21. Century and not a few companies have aligned their business model on the resale of data. Employers use People Analytics and Active Sourcing to collect data and CVs of current and future employees. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, cell phones, Paypal, Payback - all the services we use to communicate daily collect and send data.

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But the dangers lurk not only here with the usual suspects: The development of self-propelled cars is also pushed forward to collect further user data and now even toothbrushes transmit data about their cleaning behavior to the health insurance. What sounds funny will become dangerous at the latest when the data are manipulated for manipulation, eg to influence political decisions.

What you can do specifically:

Of course, you do not necessarily have to do without Facebook, Google and Co and may not be able to do that. However, you should consider which digital services you really need and where you can use your data more sparingly. You may really want to do without the toothbrush that sends data to your health insurance.

8. Allow mistakes - for more innovation

Germany is internationally known for its almost perfect engineering services, just think of the stable way in which this country houses arise, of course, are also expensive. But in the digital age, perfection is less and less in demand, much more about flexibility and agility - and even houses today would have to be more flexible and cheaper, but less durable.

It is therefore no surprise that today international companies have the nose in the front, which in the trial and error process show a certain risky reaction, such as Elon Musk or Google. Innovation is created precisely by the fact that companies learn from mistakes and try again. This is where the 0 error tolerance of many companies stands in the way. It is also due to our strictly hierarchically organized education system, which does not impart innovative, entrepreneurial thinking, and therefore prepares the leaders of tomorrow badly for their task in digital change. Thus, there is a risk that Germany will depend.

What you can do specifically:

Allow mistakes, learn to deal with you and learn from you. Do not be afraid of the future and innovations, but be open and curious about new and technical innovations.

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Conclusion: Use opportunities, not talk about risks

Without a doubt, digitization offers enormous opportunities, especially for young companies, but also for social improvements in communication, mobility or health.

But just to take advantage of these opportunities, employees and employers should actively deal with the risks and disadvantages of the digital transformation in the world of work. Only then will we succeed in socially implementing new, better working forms in the long term.


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