Agencies & New Work: Courage for new models

Weekend work in hot project phases or tinkering with the perfect pitch until midnight? Attendance requirement and a maximum of two weeks holiday at a time? What was previously considered typical of the industry in many agencies is now in a state of flux. And numerous service providers in other sectors have also begun to rethink their approach.

No matter whether agency, IT company or consultant: Generation Z starts with different demands into the working world. A steep career ladder has lost its significance with many young career starters, in return a good work-life balance becomes more important.

More and more agencies are looking for the best talents with a pioneering spirit and new, attractive working time models - away from rigid full-time work towards personal freedom.

Workaholics were yesterday: The expectations of Generation Z

The promises of New Work are great: freedom through flexible working hours and work locations, less control, out of the hamster wheel. It's not only agencies that find themselves in the balancing act between their customers' expectations and their employees' dreams of the cliché of the "digital native" who works on the sandy beach under palm trees with his notebook on his knees.

The fact is that fruit baskets and table football are usually no longer sufficient to meet the demands of the next generation. But what exactly does Generation Z want? It grew up in an environment in which children were more the focus of attention, were more praised and encouraged, and were involved in important decisions at an early age.

The result is a generation that is more self-confident than any before. The code of values has also changed: Leisure time is more important than career, family is more important than the company car, fun at work is desired instead of a wow position on the business card. This does not mean that Generation Z shows less willingness to perform - but the means of motivation are different. Most of the time, it's not about the beach and palm trees, but about much more everyday wishes: an employee-oriented working environment that gives sufficient freedom for self-determination and private life and an employer that values the physical and mental health of its employees.

New work in the agency practice

That's the theory. But can the call for flexible working really harmonize with everyday agency life? Intensive pitch and hot project phases as well as tight budgets are just as much a part of agency life as lots of coffee and deadline pressure. But agencies are naturally trend-conscious, so many agency managers are among the thought leaders when it comes to New Work. More and more agencies are moving away from traditional working models and testing innovative solutions. These can be spatial alternatives such as home offices or part-time models or modern organisational structures, for example with a stronger focus on freelancer networks.

Some German examples:

  • The Serviceplan agency group, for example, now offers flexible working time models for its employees so that they can better adapt their personal working hours to the various phases of their lives. Working in the Mobile Office is supported as well as sabbaticals.

  • The agency For Sale Digital recently reported in the trade magazine w&v that a quarter of its employees work part-time - at least 20 hours spread over at least three days a week.

  • The experiment of the IT agency Digital Enabler goes even further: The company tests the 5-hour day with full payment.

  • At IXDS, a Berlin-based design and innovation agency, all employees work a 32-hour week and can take a day off of their own choosing - although the employees earn correspondingly less here, which does not detract from the attractiveness of the model according to the agency.

  • Another exciting model: At the agency Elbdudler the managing directors are democratically elected and both the income and expenses of the company as well as the salary of all colleagues are fully transparent. Working hours and place of work as well as the number of vacation days are determined in personal responsibility.

New Work - everything easy?

The possibilities and variants of New Work are therefore manifold. But the implementation of new working models places high demands on both teams and managers. Not every idea proves to be suitable for everyday use and not everything runs smoothly at first go. New Work is far more than just a home office day per month or a shared whiteboard with colourful notes. Organisational processes are broken up and independent work requires a new mindset - from the intern to the management level.

Some ergonomists warn against a lack of social interaction and blurred boundaries between work and leisure time - for example, when, as a result of the introduction of the 5-hour day, chat breaks in the kitchen are prohibited for reasons of efficiency. When the home office leads to 24/7 availability instead of a better work-life balance. Or when the team spirit of virtual teams suffers due to a lack of personal exchange. This calls for HR managers who regularly question the progress of the transformation with a sensitive perception of undesirable developments and take timely countermeasures.

For the employer, too, New Work usually means more organizational and steering effort. Among other things, a higher part-time quota requires an increase in the pool of employees or freelancers with variable working time models, which significantly increases the complexity of project management.

Success factor resource management

Various positive examples show that New Work can work in agencies. In addition to trust and a modern corporate culture, transparent and effective resource management is one of the most important success factors: the more employees with different working time models and different work locations work together, the more demanding project management becomes.

Modern business software such as PROAD provides valuable support for service providers:

  • Simple and variable time recording tools
  • Location-independent access via mobile apps
  • Powerful project management with intuitive task manager
  • Integrated web conferencing tool for distributed teams
  • Social widgets for more team spirit - also for remotely working employees

Bottom line

The confrontation with New Work is not a luxury, but a compelling necessity in the War of Talents. Whether remote, family-friendly part-time, flatter hierarchies, open space, job sharing or co-working: HR managers must come up with something to rethink work and organize it differently - while at the same time maintaining their profitability.

The topic has reached agencies and service providers and many are already working on making their company even more employee-oriented. The recipe for success does not exist - but New Work offers numerous possibilities with exciting opportunities for the working world of the future.

Are you looking for business software that supports and drives your New Work transformation? Try PROAD, your test account will be ready for you in a few minutes!