What is meant by New Work?
Patrick Wurm: The buzzword "new work" is not as new as many people are currently claiming. Among other things, it's about the transformation of the working world through digitalization. Thanks to digital possibilities, many activities have now become location-independent. This "new way of working" brings with it many advantages, but also major challenges. One important question is: How can employers keep their employees - no matter where they work from - mentally and physically on the move?
What exactly are these challenges?
Patrick Wurm: Our experience and studies show that people often only move up to 2 km a day due to the home office. This is a blatant lack of exercise compared to the recommended minimum of 10,000 steps per day and has massive negative consequences. Apart from physical pain, every tenth respondent to our Aeris home office study also has psychological problems. An avalanche is rolling toward the healthcare system here. That's why employers, legislators, and each and every individual must take action.
Patrick Wurm: Even at the beginning of Corona, the proportion of people who regularly work in a home office rose to over 50 percent. The problem here is that, unlike the office, the home office is not regulated by law. The office furniture and technical equipment are often much worse than in the workplace. Many people don't even have a workroom and spend hours sitting on the couch or at the dining table. All this leads to poor posture and little movement. The result is quite drastic health problems, such as back pain and headaches or severe muscle tension.
That means we turn the wheel back, everyone goes back to the office, and the problem is solved?
Patrick Wurm: No, it's not that simple! In recent years, the expectations of employees - especially among Millennials and Gen Z - have changed significantly. For many, the freedoms and individual benefits of a home office are a job requirement. However, going into the office also offers many benefits. So the solution is to dovetail and bundle all these individual benefits. That's why we urgently need holistic New Work concepts for hybrid working.
Patrick Wurm: In some areas, the office has a clear added value compared to working on the road or at home. It offers space for communication, strengthens the sense of belonging and creates identity. In addition, you get impulses from other people in the office. As a result, creativity is often greater in the office than when working alone at home. All of this has a positive effect on well-being and performance.
And what are the advantages of home office and location-independent working?
Patrick Wurm: The advantages are clear. More flexible working allows a better balance between job, family, and free time. In addition, more individual work arrangements are possible. It also makes ecological sense: commuter traffic is permanently relieved and CO2 is saved.
Patrick Wurm: We need a new set of "rules" that is tailored to each individual. We finally have to break out of old ways of thinking and stop thinking in categories such as office or home office. The focus must be on individualized workplace solutions.
This means that we should ask ourselves: What does each individual employee need to stay physically and mentally fit, productive and healthy? In English, they say "one size fits no one," and that's true. Every person has different needs, prerequisites and personal circumstances. With a conceptually coordinated "hyper-personalization" of the working world, office and home office merge together.
Patrick Wurm: First of all, of course, you need the right equipment to keep people moving mentally and physically. For example, through our Aeris Swopper and a height-adjustable desk. Among other things, we have developed a desk that allows you to switch automatically between sitting and standing without having to adjust anything.
Because it's important to intuitively build movement into the day. This also means creating flexible and transparent working hours. This allows for movement in between - for sports, shopping during the lunch break or housework, for example.
Doing laundry during working hours: What would have potentially been a reason for dismissal in the past, employers should definitely consider in their movement concepts for hybrid working today!
Sounds very banal now, but it is impossible in the old thought patterns during working hours. It is important to recognize that New Work offers us many more opportunities than challenges. We are currently experiencing a paradigm shift and should take advantage of it together. Then a new, exciting, healthy, and active working world will be open to us.