April 11, 2022

Change management in the face of New Work - How to do it right

New Work is on everyone's lips. With good reason, it is a paradigm shift that offers suitable concepts for our volatile and complex world. But how do we reach this new level through change management?


While change management has been around for a while, new work is currently being hailed as a megatrend (even though this concept was already developed in the 1970s). But change management is the bridge to arrive at the new, promising and exciting world of new work. However, that bridge is collapsing for many organisations right now, whether it is for digitalisation or new work. In this article, we explain what you need to be aware of in change management in the wake of new work to successfully get to the other side. And that permanently.

What is new work?

If you are new to the term new work, we have explored it in detail in our previous article "Demystifying the Megatrend: New Work". Simplified, the new work movement is about creating a world where work is more meaningful, fulfilling and sustainable. In other words, it is a new or different way of organising work.

New Work Change Management

In the past, change management was about controlling change. We tried to predict how people would react to change and then manage them through it. But that doesn't work any more. People are too complex and change is too fast.
The new way of managing change is about creating a space for it. We make room for new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new perspectives. We embrace change as a natural part of our work.
To accomplish this, we need to let go of the old way of managing change. We need to stop trying to control it. We have to start trusting people to handle change on their own.

Kübler-Ross Change Curve

There are different approaches to change management. A popular model for understanding change in general is the "Change Curve" by Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross dating from 1969. This model helps to understand how people react to change.

(Fig 1: Kübler-Ross Change Curve - EKR Foundation)

The seven stages of the change curve can be divided into four sections:

  1. Shock and denial: When something happens for the first time, it is normal to be shocked or to deny it. This is a defence mechanism that helps us deal with change.
  2. Anger and resistance: Once the initial shock has worn off, people may become angry or resist. They may not want to transform and may be vocal about it.
  3. Exploration and curiosity: Once people have accepted that something is changing, they may become curious and start to explore what it means to them.
  4. Commitment and acceptance: At this stage, people have decided to accept the change and commit to making it work.

The change curve is a helpful tool to understand how people respond to change. However, it is important to note that everyone deals with change differently. Some people go through the stages quickly, while others take longer. In the following, we shed light on how best to manage change.

(Fig 2: Organizational Change Management - G2G3)

Steps of change management

The first step is the so-called location assessment or location analysis (dt. Standortanalyse). Essential questions are answered here:

  • How pro-change is the corporate culture at the moment?
  • What is our goal, what do we want to achieve?
  • What do we want the future to look like together?
  • What do the employees think about change?

The second step is to identify all the people who will be affected by the change.

The third step is to understand what motivates these people. It is also the moment when resistance is recognised and perceived. 

Since it is precisely these resistances that determine the success or failure of the change, underlying motives need to be deeply understood. Often there are few and always the same reasons, such as fear, lack of understanding, comfort, self-indulgence or shame.

The fourth step is to develop a plan to help people move from the current state to the desired state. That plan is designed according to the individual resistances that were recorded in the previous step. In this way, resistance can be eliminated or people can become more familiar with the change and the new issues. Actions to improve implementation could include structural change, reward systems or a new way of leading.

In the fifth step, this plan is executed

And in the sixth and final step, the plan is monitored and adjusted as needed. Is the culture change on track? Are we achieving our goals and a real change in the company culture?

For each of these steps, there are a variety of tools and techniques that can be used. But at its core, change management is about understanding people and their motivations and helping them to change.
Below we look at some important areas of change management in the face of new work.

What does culture mean for new work change management?

The culture is an important part of any workplace, but it is especially important for new work change management. This is because the way employees work and interact with each other can have a big impact on how successful change management will be. If employees are used to a certain way of doing things, it can be difficult to get them to change their habits. And if they don't share the same values as the company, it can be difficult to get them on board with the change.
Therefore, it is significant to create a positive and supportive culture in the company before starting new work change management. This way, you can ensure that employees are more open to change and more willing to work together to implement it.

Change Management Communication

Communication is also a fundamental part of any workplace - and it is essential for new work change management. It is through communication that employees learn about the project and how they can contribute to its realisation. 
The most important thing is that employees understand the change, why it will have a positive impact on the whole organisation and thus feel that they are part of the process. Only then will they be motivated to work hard to achieve the changes.

Creating spaces

Making room for new ways of working by removing or dismantling barriers to change. This may mean eliminating old processes and procedures that are no longer needed or freeing up resources that can be used for new initiatives.
It may also mean communicating openly and honestly with staff about the changes that are taking place and why they are necessary (see communication above). Creating space requires a willingness to let go of the past and embrace the future. This is an essential part of any successful change management strategy.
It is also about creating an environment where people feel comfortable to take risks, try new things and bring in new ideas. It's about creating a culture of openness and collaboration. And it is about giving staff the time and resources they need to adapt to the changes that are taking place.
Creating open spaces is a necessary step on the road to organisational change. It is a way for new work to unfold through successful change management.


New Work Change Management is a process that helps organisations to successfully implement new work changes. First, it is important to create a positive and supportive culture in which employees are willing to embrace change. Understanding their objections and concerns is of paramount importance. It is essential that communication works well to ensure that staff understand why the changes are taking place and how they can help to implement them. Finally, it is necessary to create spaces for new ways of working by removing barriers to change. When these steps are successfully implemented, new work can flourish as a result of successful change management.

New Work is on everyone's lips. With good reason, it is a paradigm shift that offers suitable concepts for our volatile and complex world. But how do we reach this new level through change management?
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