BERNHARD HOCHMAYR INTERVIEW: WHY NEW WORK DOESN'T MAKE SENSE FOR EVERY COMPANY - OR DOES IT?

Sometimes things turn out differently than expected. At the WorkVision BarCamp in bluebird.space, HILL International CEO Bernhard Hochmayr wanted to find answers to how we can adapt our working environment to New Work. He talks to us about his new insights - such as the fact that New Work is not necessarily suitable for every company and whether he got his answers after all.

HILL International: Mr Hochmayr, everyone is talking about New Work. You were recently a participant in the WorkVision BarCamp at bluebird.space. As an employer, is there any way around the trendy topic of New Work these days?

Bernhard Hochmayr: No, in the so-called "war for talents", i.e., in the competition for the best professionals, companies cannot avoid trend topics - such as New Work. For many, however, it remains a sham. It would be more important, and above all more sustainable, to pay attention to whether New Work measures serve the company's own purpose. Because only then it would make sense.

In the picture: A very heterogeneous group of CEOs, founders, start-ups, HR experts and mentors: The participants of the WorkVision BarCamp in bluebird.space tried their skills at the New Work reality check.

HILL International: You mentioned trend topic, sham measures and talk about sustainability: Let's get to the point: What is New Work and what sense and purpose does it serve?

Bernhard Hochmayr: Trend topics are constantly accompanying us in the world of work. While recently it was employer branding, now it is the topic of New Work. However, many people do not understand the term in its true sense and equate home office or the question of single-room or open-plan offices with new work. However, it is not that simple.

HILL International: To what extend?

Bernhard Hochmayr: The topic of New Work comprises far more influencing factors than those just mentioned. These include digitalisation, regional proximity to the employer - keyword "satellite office", working-time -flexibility and workplace design. Furthermore, New Work should not be considered based on employee wishes alone. To ensure that New Work does not remain just a brief illusory action in the company, but contributes sustainably to the company's success, the internal perspective should always be included in the considerations in addition to the external effect on the company environment, and one question should be central: "Does it serve my company purpose at all?" In this way, it quickly becomes clear that New Work means something different for every industry, both for the company and for the employees.

HILL International: What is the purpose of New Work now?

Bernhard Hochmayr: Depending on the company's current employee target group, the aim is to get closer to the current needs of the labour market. Workplace (re)design does not simply mean putting a few nice desks in the room. It has a lot to do with job satisfaction. It is about offering employees the choice of being able to adapt their own working environment to a large extent and in a self-determined way to the respective situation and mood as well as the functional activity. New Work experts call this Activity Based Working. Essentially, the goal of New Work is that employees work together more happily, more efficiently and more sustainably and thus make a significant contribution to the success of the company.

HILL International: Mr Hochmayr, from your point of view as a personnel consultant, how important is the topic of "New Work" for companies to position themselves as attractive employers?

Bernhard Hochmayr: New Work only makes sense for a company if, as a result, added value can be derived for the employees and the company. If my target group of applicants or employees cannot relate to New Work, it is not necessarily relevant for the company. Answers to possible influencing factors can be provided here by the diversity of generations or also the individual job profiles, as it makes a difference whether we are talking about exposed C-level positions or a managerial as well as creative task in the marketing or HR world. Generation Z, for example, is far more demanding in terms of regionality, digitalisation and home office than Generation Y, for example, the majority of which is still prepared to accept a somewhat longer commute and demand a home office less. In times of a shortage of skilled workers, satellite offices, i.e. outsourced company locations in order to be closer to the target group of applicants and to save employees a long journey to work, or dealing with digitalisation, can certainly make sense from a company's point of view.

HILL International: And to your knowledge, what are the criticisms of New Work from an entrepreneur's point of view?

Bernhard Hochmayr: In the competition for coveted skilled workers, companies sometimes feel compelled to use every means at their disposal and to follow every trend. But New Work as an empty phrase is not helpful. As long as entrepreneurs and managers do not deal with the DNA of a company, it is not possible to implement authentic and sustainable New Work strategies. Let's think of a very familiar example - home office only works if superiors have the corresponding trust in their employees.

HILL International: Keyword employees: What role does New Work now play for applicants?

Bernhard Hochmayr: From our perspective at HILL International, as a premium consultant in the executive segment, this topic is still not very present for our candidates. Away from the management level and more at the expert and specialist level, New Work is already becoming more relevant, especially in the IT sector, as well as in the marketing and HR sectors, but again depending on the generation. It is noticeable that representatives of Generation Z already ask more directly than those of Generation Y during job interviews, "How does this company work?” and actively demand strong working time flexibility, home office and a modern working environment.

And what significance does New Work now have within the company at HILL International?

Bernhard Hochmayr: As I said, we have had little contact with it from the candidate side - specialists and managers. On the other hand, we have to look at the topic of New Work as an employer for our own employees, as we ourselves also want to continue to position ourselves as an attractive employer on the market for our target group of employees. 

And are you succeeding? What measures are you taking regarding New Work?

Bernhard Hochmayr: Only the future will show whether we actually succeed. But yes, we are currently working very intensively on this issue. During our expansion of the HILL International brand in Austria and beyond, it will be decisive how we meet the current and future requirements of an attractive employer and bring them in line with our corporate goals. We are currently expanding in Salzburg and will be incorporating key aspects of New Work into the conceptual design of the new location. The focus will be on space concepts that are in line with the function and activity and that support our employees in working efficiently and happily every day. In personnel consulting, there are two decisive aspects to take into account: discretion and collaboration, i.e. the exchange of ideas among each other. The new concept takes both requirements into account.

HILL International: In conclusion, what is your opinion on the topic of New Work?

Bernhard Hochmayr: Decision-makers in companies are very much asked to think about which measures can support or even increase the job satisfaction and efficiency of our employees. The WorkVision BarCamp was very interesting in that we were a very heterogeneous group of CEOs, founders, start-ups, HR experts and mentors who all had a realistic and critical approach to the topic: What can my company offer to increase its own employer attractiveness? How can I create a working environment in which employees can work on their own initiative and efficiently and feel comfortable, while at the same time not neglecting my corporate goals as a company? New Work should therefore be another facet of employer branding. If we succeed in bringing about a positive change at this level, this will have a retroactive positive effect on the success of the company, and that in the long term.

Mr. Hochmayr, thank you very much for the interview.

Text/interview by Catharina Fink, M.A.

Ing. Bernhard Hochmayr, B.A., Management West-Austria
Management West-Austria

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