From New Work to Future Work: Interview with Irene Oksinoglu from Otto

Irene Oksinoglu, what is meant by Otto under New Work?
We summarize the mega trend New Work for us under the term Future Work to see how we can translate this development for Otto. In concrete terms, the Future Work Initiative was founded to prioritize and sort all measures that take place. We understand this initiative as a process that will take a long time. Otto took up the topic when our office space was changed and noticed that pretty furniture does not help if it is not used effectively. That was when we realized that we also had to take care of attitude and mindset. At the end of 2017, for example, we proclaimed Future Work a core initiative and I took over the management.

How exactly is your Future Work group positioned?
My team has a cross-functional composition and is very flexible in that we are getting people we just need as experts to work on a particular topic. The core team consists of one area management employee and one expert each from IT, change management and corporate communications.

What content does Future Work handle?
Under Future Work we summarize three pillars: space, digitality and culture. The first pillar, space, is also referred to as Activity Based Working. We see our rooms at Otto as a multi-space concept. In which I can always find the work situation that I need to do my job in the best possible way. Therefore, we have designed our areas in the Group very diverse, depending on the need to be able to select the right work place: If I want to work focused and focused, I go to work at rest, if I want to conduct a confidential conversation, there are corresponding rooms or telephone jacks if I want to do project work, I meet with my colleagues on the project areas, for creative work there are rooms where you can brainstorm and label walls and gluing.

Is this offer at Otto in addition to the fixed own desk?
Not in the future. We are redesigning all areas and the new areas support the sharing principle. I watch what I have planned for my daily routine and look accordingly my areas. All workplaces are equipped with the same technology. This even extends over our entire campus, we have a boulevard outside and a garden area with waterproof sockets. And especially in the afternoon you can use the premises of the canteen or the bistros as a workplace. Add to that the mobile space. Say co-working spaces or home office, so the whole topic of mobile working.

The second pillar was the term digitality.
The topics of digitality or digital office strongly influence our work. We include all the technical possibilities that we use to make our work processes as easy as possible. It is important to us that we are not guided by the technology, but that we actively select the technology for us. Currently this means that we are introducing Office 365. Because it allows us to make our communication more efficient and promote transparency. Digitization also means being able to share knowledge and information to be more productive. With Office 365, we have data in the cloud, can support mobile work, and collaborate collaboratively, because we can get together with documents. I can access my data from any device, which is so nice and so easy to experience: For example, when I edit a PowerPoint presentation on my service phone and it is also accessible to other colleagues in the cloud at the same time. The topics of networked work and real-time work are important to us.

Missing the third pillar: culture.
Here we summarize the necessary mindset that it takes to accept the changes positively. We examine which patterns of behavior need to be questioned, rethought and changed in order to make the best possible use of the contents of the pillars of space and digitality. And that's where we put people in the center. Because of course we have different generations and personalities among the employees and different tasks have to be fulfilled. We are firmly convinced that there are no blanket answers. But it is important to check where a posture change is necessary. And that is the task of culture. And of course, all three pillars are interwoven.

How are the Otto employees involved in the change process?
There was a kick-off event at which we communicated the three pillars, but also announced the move to the new work spaces.The further involvement of employees happens proactively, but also passively. We report regularly as part of a Future Work blog and on our intranet. The relocations of the teams are closely and individually accompanied by the change department and the relocation officer. We look that we give room for all questions and find an answer to everything. We give our colleagues time to get used to new spaces so that things that look new and different in the first place can become normal and natural over time. The technical conversion to Office 365, we announced in a mandatory kick-off event, in which we also once again on the topic of attitude are received. We explained: why are we doing this? Why do we think it necessary to change our way of working? After all, we are not concerned with New Work, because we read a lot about it in the media, but because we also need it in order to remain competitive. We make a lot of visible and transparent and let those who are already experiencing the process tell about it.

What feedback is there from the employees to the changes?
They are happy. Many say that they work for Otto because the atmosphere is important to them. And this atmosphere is also connected with Future Work. Some colleagues are very grateful to Office 365 for trying it out boldly and reorganizing accordingly because they recognize the added value. Others need to get used to the new tools and we'll give them time to do so. The most beautiful feedback was when our CEO, Katy Roewer, communicated that we were nominated with the Future Work project for the Xing New Work Award and all colleagues from other departments were looking forward to seeing us.

Why is Future Work nominated for the award?
Of course, I do not know why the jury chose us. I can say two things that we do differently: we shape the big picture. Many people at New Work see only new space and new office furniture, or new IT systems or just the work culture. But in our Future Work triad, the three pillars go hand in hand. And we go into the human. We pay attention to individual needs and try not to generalize. We do not want to be driven by trends, but look to see what fits in with the existing Otto culture.

At the ChroniquesDuVasteMonde Academy, we always pay special attention to the role of women. What opportunities does Future Work Women offer to Otto?
Regardless of Future Work, there are various programs at Otto that promote and support women and especially mothers. For example flexible working models, a lot of home office possibilities and flexible contracts. We see the added value and the increasing motivation by the work to the private life fits. With Katy Roewer we also have a board that works in an 80% position. This is a nice role model. Future Work is more accentuated by attitude issues, because we want to recognize that people work productively from everywhere. Not just in front of the screen at the desk. At the end of the day, it's just about getting the results right.

Thanks for the interview, Irene Oksinoglu

New Work & Digitalisierung - Einblick in die Zukunft der Arbeitswelt bei OTTO (October 2020).