New Work & New Year: Unicorn's Dos and Don'ts für 2023

January 3, 2023

A year that’s drawing to a close, and a new one that’s just beginning. It’s a time that presents us with wonderful opportunities to pause, reflect on the past and look towards the future. What worked out well? What would we like to do away with? What gave us inspiration throughout the year? What would we like to have more of? This is how we’d like to see New Work in the new year!

Three things we’d like to see in New Work for 2023:

1. Strategies for employee well-being

New Work is about reshaping the working world, and an integral part of this is the continually changing relationship between employers and employees. Instead of viewing staff solely as resources, New Work sees individuals who have different needs and requirements – at the workplace, too. Which is why the concept of employee well-being goes hand in hand with New Work values. For quite some time, employee well-being offerings centered on promoting the physical and professional well-being of employees. Perhaps it was precisely due to the pandemic and the numerous (psychological) challenges which we had to withstand – both collectively and also on our own – that psychological well-being came to the forefront. Employee well-being now stood for fostering a holistic wellness, incorporating physical, emotional, financial, social and communal aspects. While many companies want to support the well-being of their employees, only a very few have strategies for doing so. Conceiving a strategy for employee well-being is a unique process for every team, and will certainly be subject to an ongoing iterative process of being reviewed, being challenged and making adaptions. Get a glimpse into what employee well-being at Unicorn looks like here.

2. More work-life something or other

Whether it’s work-life balance, work-life integration or work-life blending: there are a lot of working models pursuing the same goal. They all incorporate the desire for greater compatibility and a smoother interaction of professional and private life. Work-life balance seeks to achieve this through a distinct separation of work and personal life, by setting boundaries and balancing one’s own resources. Work-life integration and work-life blending take another approach: viewing a strict separation of private and professional life as impossible, the focus should therefore be on combining both of these areas successfully. Regardless whether freelancers or employees, work-life balance or work-life integration, it just seems that the majority of workers haven’t yet achieved that level of compatibility in their private and professional lives which they’ve been hoping for.  That’s why a “work-life something or other” remains on our to-do list for 2023. By all means not only for employees! Above all, it’s companies themselves who need to create environments where actively allocating time for life and living is possible.

3. The right workplace for everyone: remote, hybrid, office!

There’s probably no other questions out there being bounced around so much since the pandemic turned the working world upside down: should we go back to the office? Do we still even need an office? Is anyone working from home anyway? Among the limbo of mandatory remote work, returning to the office and hybrid work models, many employers and employees are confronted with challenges, which at the same time are also wonderful chances for the working world. Some love to go to the office, perhaps while they don’t have a proper setup for working at home, or keeping their work environment separate from their home space is important for them. They may also enjoy the contact and interaction with others at the office, or find the office attractive for the benefits it provides, such as team lunches and great coffee. There are others who seem to flourish when working remotely, feeling that their ability to concentrate improves when there are no other colleagues nearby on telephone calls. They may also appreciate no longer having a long commute to work, or being able to integrate other daily tasks within their working life better. In any case, an office where all employees are expected to be present every day is no longer in tune with the times. However, it’s important that there continue to be physical working locations for everyone who wants to go to the office. That’s why 2023 will be the year for progressively strengthening hybrid working models within corporate structures, establishing policies which meet a variety of needs.   

Three things we’d lilke to see disappear from the New Work world in 2023: 

1. Burning the midnight oil: the all-nighter

Pulling an all-nighter hasn’t been cool for a while, probably at least since the 2010s, if it was ever cool to begin with. Yet unfortunately, in some toxic work environments, the myth still persists that the all-nighter shows how much we’re “hustling”. Of course, this is just nonsense – all-nighters are unhealthy and don’t produce any dazzling results. In a healthy working environment, assignments shouldn’t be given on such short notice that an employee has no other recourse but to pull an all-nighter to get the work done. Plus, it should also be understood that maintaining physical and psychological health is a priority, and employees should be able to let it openly be known when the workload becomes too overwhelming.   

2. Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap, the difference between what men and women earn, continues to pose a problem. In Germany, women earn much less than men. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, women earned 18% less per hour than men in 2021. This 18% represents the unadjusted gender pay gap, which compares the average earnings of all employees. The big difference in earnings for women and men is also a result of many structural issues, which lead women to work in low-paid professions or to work part-time or “marginal” hours in a minijob. Yet even for job positions with similar qualifications and working experience, the adjusted gender pay gap was still 6% in 2021. According to Global Citizen, if no measures are put into place to eliminate the gender pay gap, it will take 99 years, up until the year 2121, to close the gap. It’s self-explanatory as to why the gender pay gap is a solid “don’t”. 

3. Empty buzzwords

For some, New Work itself is the biggest buzzword out there. It might well be that when simply implied without implementation. In 2023, let’s not have New Work turn into a buzzword bingo, with companies throwing around slick words and attractive concepts when there’s no trace of them to be found in their corporate culture. Employee well-being, work-life balance, remote work, workation, social impact, purpose or agile work – they’re all only really New Work when we can actually engage in them.