25 Mar 2024

New Work from the company's perspective

A call for discussion


At a time when the world of work is changing rapidly and traditional ways of working are being questioned more and more often, the concept of New Work is becoming increasingly important. However, the concept of what New Work actually is is also in a state of flux. This makes it all the more important to provide space for new ideas, new approaches and a platform for discussion. This is exactly what Vahlen Verlag is trying to do with its programme. With its authors, it has created a dynamic community that is constantly throwing new, often unusual, but always experienced and expert perspectives on the topic of New Work into the ring.

"New Work inevitably leads to entrepreneurial hypocrisy" is one of the theses from the book "The Real Book of Work" published by Vahlen Verlag. Author Christina Grubendorfer calls for New Work to be considered from the perspective of the company:

In the normatively charged context of New Work, companies find it difficult to articulate this necessity to their employees. This is because New Work demands that work becomes more people-friendly above all else, and everything else must be subordinate to this. This leads to companies trying to conceal their actual interests, namely making money. They feign New Work.

It is almost absurd that New Work appears to be the Holy Grail to greater entrepreneurial success for many companies. New Work has thus moved far away from its original idea and intention. And only a few companies that claim New Work for themselves know what the inventor, the Austrian-American social philosopher and anthropologist Frithjof Bergmann, was really talking about when he began his general criticism of our concept of work. If he had his way, companies as we know them today would no longer exist. New Work should help to disempower companies, to turn off the money tap, which would also be tantamount to their abolition.

New Work set out to serve higher purposes than successful corporate management; New Work wanted to change the logic of our working world. But our working world cannot be reliably changed either by appealing to individuals or by appealing to companies. If anything, politics and our legal system would be better delivery addresses for the New Work "movement". After all, laws can be used to influence the economy. However, it is not too surprising that the New Work providers have little or no recourse to these other functional systems of our society. After all, they themselves are also participants in the economic system and therefore also follow the medium of money.

In terms of its implementation, New Work has an open flank. And this has been readily exploited by creative minds who have come up with methods that companies should use to "introduce" New Work. But instead of transforming themselves into New Work organisations, the application of the methods themselves became an expression of New Work. However, the question of what a New Work organisation would actually look like still needs to be asked - there is a lot of room for interpretation here.

This is just an excerpt from "The Real Book of Work" and the book itself is just one of many works in the Vahlen Verlag programme. However, each individual contribution is a building block in the important discussion about how we want to shape our working world in the future.

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Portrait Tanja Stopper
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