How to deal with the New World of Work

Nowadays, people increasingly work outside of the traditional set-up of company walls and office hours. Work without time and location constraints, activity-based work, job crafting etc. are all forms of the New World of Work that offer countless advantages, but also pose a challenge for both employers and employees. As a manager, you play a key role in the successful implementation of this concept, but what exactly are your responsibilities? And how can you ensure collaboration within your teams is not disrupted?

Vlerick Business School and Arteveldehogeschool, supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), are launching an interactive knowledge platform on the New World of Work. The aim of this initiative is to give managers the support they need when this new approach to work is introduced.

The key role of managers

Managers play a key role in the successful implementation of the New World of Work (NWOW). The managers’ approach to this concept and the way they support their staff has a major impact on the way the flexibility and opportunities of NWOW are leveraged. “Given their intermediary position, managers play an important role in the transposition of these formal concepts to their employees”, explains Emmy Defever, researcher at Vlerick Business School.

NWOW requires a specific leadership style in which four competencies are key. “First of all, managers should focus more on result-oriented coaching, rather than attaching importance to the staff’s presence at the office or the number of hours worked. The results to be obtained should take centre stage. Secondly, it is important to make clear agreements on the goals to be reached and to give staff members the freedom they need to obtain them as they please”, says Christel De Maeyer, lecturer and researcher at Arteveldehogeschool.

Working without time and location constraints can, however, lead to reduced (physical) contact between the team members. Here too, the researchers believe managers play a key role. “It is their task to ensure and stimulate social cohesion through formal and informal contacts, and by monitoring how knowledge and information are shared. Last but not least, managers should become the ambassadors of the corporate strategic vision on NWOW, and they should garner support for it.

Good insights into one’s personal leadership style are important. Therefore, the knowledge platform offers you the possibility to complete a brief competency scan which tells you what your strengths are and which competencies need further development as part of NWOW.

It’s all about interaction

What can you, as a manager, expect from this platform? First of all, it is, of course, a rich source of information. It provides academic insights and research results as well as plenty of real case studies from a wide variety of companies, tools you can use yourself, brief surveys and scientific blog articles.
The project also includes webinars. HR expert and Vlerick professor Dirk Buyens kicks off the series with a webinar on the basic principles of NWOW: what is it exactly? What are the consequences of its implementation? What is its impact on the team and on the manager?

The ultimate goal of this knowledge platform is to stimulate interaction and create an online community. You can share your knowledge, knowhow and experiences with peers and ask questions on social media and on the online forum.

KEEN TO FIND OUT MORE? The study conducted in the framework of the knowledge platform has resulted in a white paper on leadership and NWOW, which focuses on the challenges of working without time and location constraints, and includes the views of HR professionals from fifty or so organisations. For further information about these and other research findings, and to keep up to date on further relevant research and initiatives you can become a member of the knowledge platform free of charge at


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