New Work Order

New Work Order Studies

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Trend research commissioned by IBA

Companies that advise IBA member companies on how to design their workplaces must understand the relevant relationships and include future developments in their recommendations. This requires a well-founded knowledge base. That’s why the Association of German Office Designers commissioned the Hamburg trend researcher Birgit Gebhardt to make an imaginary journey through the new world of work. Birgit Gebhardt and her team sifted through the findings of international research projects, looked for pioneers among German companies, and talked to experts about their views concerning this development. They were also commissioned by the IBA to conduct telephone surveys of managers, human resources officers and employees. The results of this work have so far been published in three consecutive New Work Order studies.


New Work Order basic study

Social media change the relationship between companies and customers. Customers expect not only to be addressed individually but also to receive quick reactions to their questions. Traditional organizations with decision-making across several hierarchy levels are too slow for that. Instead, there’s a demand for all the responsible parties in a company to be directly connected. It therefore makes sense to take the technical possibilities offered by social media and transfer them to internal communication. When the first New Work Order study was published in October 2012, 36% of all German companies were already experimenting with these pioneering elements of a new work culture.


The office is being transformed

A central issue dealt with by the first New Work Order study was the question of what role the office plays within the networked world of work. Experts and practitioners agreed on the answer to this question: The office will continue to be needed in the future. It will receive an additional role as a space for personal encounters, and its appearance will change radically.


Organizations are changing

The first in-depth study (which was published in October 2014) describes the new structures, rules and control processes for organizations that are resulting from digitalization. Among German companies, project work is the most popular way of introducing new forms of cooperation. However, as a representative forsa survey commissioned by the IBA has shown, many managers make the mistake of assigning projects to their employees as an additional set of tasks without providing them with the necessary freedom in terms of time, space and organization. Such projects have only limited success, and in most cases the employees are not impressed.


Creative learning environments

The second in-depth study, which was published in October 2016, describes how worlds of work become learning worlds. It’s obvious that this has to happen, but for many employees 'lifelong learning' sounds more like a threat than a promise. The reasons are obvious: The word 'learning' reminds most people of their schooldays, with a strong pressure to learn and monotonous surroundings. But examples from Scandinavia show that the learning process can be different. In the most recent New Work Order study, these examples are supplemented by insights into the way we learn and the resulting requirements for the surroundings within which we learn and work.


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New Work Order

This term is a deliberate play on the concept of a new world order, because the ongoing structural transformation of industry into a networked economy calls on entrepreneurs to restructure their organizations from top to bottom.

Birgit Gebhardt, trend researcher