Over the past five years, more than 15,000 ABN AMRO employees have made the transition to the New Way of Working (NWW) – and this number is increasing every day.
The New Way of Working is a more efficient way for people to work and achieve a better work-life balance.
Britta Boelrijk Programme manager New Way of Working
In many respects the bank has come a long way, yet the New Way of Working is an issue that requires continual focus. Even though NWW has become a common expression both at ABN AMRO and elsewhere, some of the old prejudices still need to be overcome. NWW requires not only a different way of working, individually and with others, it also needs to be managed differently. And those old prejudices can still trip up managers and supervisors.
‘So what do I do if everyone just wants to go to the beach one day?’ That’s a question that I’m regularly asked by supervisors and managers who want to their teams to adopt NWW. Supervisors and managers are initially often worried about losing touch and so losing control. This can blind them to the potential gains. In my experience many managers initially focus a lot on the possible limitations. How do you know whether if someone is actually working when they’re at home? They might be doing the laundry, or walking the dog. My response is to ask them whether they’re really sure that their people are productive when they’re at the office, and not secretly spending hours on Facebook. And more importantly, what precisely do they want to monitor? Ultimately what matters is the output, not the amount of time that someone spends on their laptop.
Another issue that regularly emerges is the personal contact between staff. ‘How do I see whether my people are still happy?’ That’s easy to solve by scheduling regular coaching sessions: not just to talk about work results, but also to see how the individual is feeling. In practice many supervisors and managers still see their teams regularly. The New Way of Working is not the same as working from home. Although this is an option, it isn’t mandatory. In fact, many departments don’t include working from home as part of NWW: our call centre, for example, and our operations departments.
The New Way of Working only works if the transition comes from the individuals themselves. In our organisation, our supervisors and managers decide together with their teams how NWW can best contribute to the business goals. They understand their own jobs better than outsiders do. So each department adopts a version of NWW that is best suited to its own needs and so offers the best efficiency improvement. Our call centre staff, for example, started scheduling their own hours, and one of our operations departments adapts its working hours based on the amount of work.
Not a goal in and of itself
Change takes time, and NWW is a huge change, particularly for supervisors and managers. The most important point for them to understand is that NWW isn’t a goal in and of itself. Whether people do their laundry while they’re working, or walk the dog, or in fact stay working until late at night if it’s busy: NWW is a tool for improving efficiency and productivity and for offering your teams a better work/life balance. This is better for everyone. And how do you stay in touch with your people? That’s up to you.