“Communication is of course a very important point.” 

digital team meeting
August 23, 2022 | Operations Management

New work promises to make work easier, more flexible and more enjoyable, but there is a long way to go. Detlev Artelt, Communication Architect and Managing Director of aixvox GmbH in Aachen, talks about the challenges and solutions in this context with Janice Köser, Academy Manager at Staufen AG, in the podcast for change. 

A photo of business people having discussion in board room. Male and female professionals are seen through glass. They are working in office.

The tasks of communication architects 

Every change in working life involves effort: We tend to do everything the way we have always done it – simply out of habit. But in order to reap the benefits of new work, change is inevitable. The greatest difficulty is that not everyone in a team is on the same page: While some easily work with documents in the cloud, others still send large volumes of data by e-mail. “Communication is of course a very important point,” says Communication Architect Detlev Artelt. 

It is important to involve each individual team member where they are. For the communications architect as a consultant in the company, the first thing to do is always to make an analysis and query the different points of view. Only then is it possible to put together the appropriate tools for the company and the team. There are tools that can be used in some workplaces and not in others. Anyone who works on a machine, for example, is bound to a specific location. This does not apply to people who design presentations, write articles, give lectures, etc.: Here there is no fixed place for work. 

It is up to the communication architect to show the workforce in the company the possibilities: How can work be made more flexible and enjoyable? Which tool is suitable? Why is it not necessary to fixate on the office? The concept of the previous world of work, however many disadvantages it might bring, is surprisingly difficult to overturn, Detlev Artelt explains: “We have to break things up so that work is no longer a place, but something I do.” 

The three Bs – bricks, bytes and behavior 

In order to remove deeply ingrained ideas and assumptions from people’s minds, several points must work together. Detlev Artelt calls them the three Bs: bricks, bytes and behavior. 

In far too many companies that are well equipped with bricks and bytes, behavior is lacking. This is due to the fact that the acquisition of the necessary equipment and modern tools is “only” a question of money, while behavior must take place in the heads of the employees as well as in those of the management.  

For example, it is not enough to purchase high-quality equipment and schedule training sessions for the workforce; it is imperative that management and executives also master and use the bricks and bytes. Functioning as a role model should not be underestimated: Why should employees make the effort to change if the management does not? 

Bricks

Bricks are the companies themselves, the places of work, the spaces and places available for work. 

Bytes

Bytes are the set of usable technologies that enable people to collaborate, even in different places – from communication tools for conferences to cloud services for sharing and collaborating on large amounts of data. 

Behaviour

Behavior is the corporate culture that must ensure that the first two resources are well exploited and used.  

But the question is also: What added value does working in the lobby offer? Why should I sit there instead of in my office? Moreover, why would anyone think I’m not doing anything when I’m sitting there with my laptop or paper and pencil?

Detlev artelt,
communication architect and Manging director aixvox GmbH

Simply work differently 

Detlev Artelt’s book “Einfach anders arbeiten” (Simply working differently) was published in 2015. It is important to note that “simply” refers to the goal, not the implementation: “Of course, that’s not easy at all for companies,” says Detlev Artelt. He knows of companies, for example, where there is a comfortable and well-equipped lobby where employees can also work for a change if they want: “But the question is also: What added value does working in the lobby offer? Why should I sit there instead of in my office? Moreover, why would anyone think I’m not doing anything when I’m sitting there with my laptop or paper and pencil?” That is because of the deeply ingrained idea that the office is the workplace and not the lobby. 

This shows one of the basic problems with change in companies: It is not enough to provide employees with new tools. They also need guidance and help in trying out, accepting, creating and maintaining new habits. 

Managers face great challenges 

Sometimes it just turns out that those who oppose video conferencing have poorly functioning monitors or microphones – so they assume they cannot cope with the new technology. Checking this should be one of the first steps. It already clears away a lot of potential for refusal. 

For any change, you need to take inventory:

  • What tools and opportunities are available?
  • Are they equally available to the entire workforce?
  • How far has digitization progressed in the company overall?

However, hardware is not the problem in most cases: Especially employees who hardly use computers outside of work and have no interest in the subject matter often react unwillingly to changes for which they have to learn something that is not directly suited to them. Others, on the other hand, are happy to accept new possibilities, understand them intuitively, and use them confidently and naturally within a short period of time. This discrepancy makes training more complicated. 

Managers must always consider that one part of the workforce needs more help than another. In addition, there are numerous gradations here that should be considered. Some employees only need a brief introduction: “For many, using such tools is a matter of course,” says Detlev Artelt. Others not only need more and smaller-scale training and workshops, but also need gentle guidance again and again in their daily lives to ensure that they take advantage of the new opportunities in the long term. 

New work can make work more enjoyable 

Detlev Artelt thinks it is important to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new work to make working as enjoyable as possible. The fact that many companies allowed working from home during the pandemic was only the first step: “Not everyone has the desire and space to work at home,” Artelt points out. But co-working spaces also offer an interesting alternative to the corporate office. New technologies also make it easier for employees to take care of themselves in a concentrated workflow. “I also use such a tool when working. It reminds me to take breaks. And it also reminds me to drink and exercise,” Artelt explains. The possibilities of New Work are diverse – it is up to the companies themselves to take the first steps.  

Host Janice Koeser

Janice Köser

Manager Academy

Interview partner Portrait Detlev Artelt

Detlev Artelt

Communication Architect and Managing Director

aixvox GmbH

more about New Work

Collaboration Study 2021

When the wind changes, the team must know how to act. A regatta is a symbol for successful cooperation. The team is well attuned to each other. The dynamic conditions…

Read more

“We will be desperately seeking skilled workers for the human-machine interface”

The future of businesses around the world is closely tied to artificial intelligence (AI). Verena Fink is an expert in this field and speaks with Janice Köser from Staufen AG about the opportunities and risks of the new technology.

Read more

“These days being on time and working hard is just not enough!”

Anna Kopp has been working at Microsoft for more than 16 years. Head of IT since 2015, she is in charge of the technology company’s office in Munich. A power woman who like no other executive has lived and breathed new work for years.

Read more