The future of work offers both businesses and employees opportunities to shape their environment. In collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute, Bene surveyed 1,200 people in 34 countries, to provide some fresh insight and food for thought in its new “Challenge the Future of Work” report. By what means can work be successful and fulfilling is a question posed against the backdrop not only of current developments, but also of digitalisation, which is synonymous with increasingly rapid change in all sectors.

In the current climate, where all the rules of social and professional interaction are being put to the test, remote working and home offices have become a necessity for many companies. Some companies are already well equipped, while for others, the prevailing situation presents a major challenge. What opportunities do digitalisation and artificial intelligence offer to companies and their employees? How should managers reinterpret their role? What is it that actually motivates people to work today? And what is it that makes our work not just successful, but also fulfilling? To explore these issues, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), Bene surveyed 1,200 people from 34 countries about the current situation and the future of work – with surprising results.

The future of work, a design project One of the findings of the survey shows how important personal fulfilment is for employees when it comes to the meaning and purpose of work. 73% of those surveyed expressed a desire to use their individual skills and to be able to identify with the objectives of the company. Often cited in relation to Generation Y, surprisingly this wish was in fact evident across all age groups. More than ever before, employees are looking for work they can connect with on a deep level, which reflects their personal goals and values. Another important factor is a new management culture. Among other things, the survey confirms that this is something that is needed by a large majority (86%) of workers.

Employees want their bosses to delegate responsibility and place emphasis on cooperation and participation. We are also seeing radical changes in terms of collaboration. 91% of the study participants were in favour of being able to work independently without too much monitoring by their supervisors. Instead, they want spaces to meet with colleagues, as well as opportunities to retreat and concentrate on their work. With the newly available report, Bene’s challenge is to demonstrate ways in which employees and managers can create scope for development, with self-organising teams and agile methods, flat hierarchies and relationships that are on an equal footing. According to the findings, more than ever before, employees expect the company, where they spend a large part of their life, to provide compelling answers to the question “to what end?”. This means companies that want to hold their ground in rapidly changing, turbulent times need to provide a sense of purpose, becoming “meaning suppliers”.

Whether determining the purpose and how to integrate new technologies, leadership principles or collaboration methods, it is in the hands of all of those involved in company decisions to make work more meaningful, simple, interesting and creative. “We now have an even better understanding of companies and their employees and can move forward into the future with greater strength – to produce new, smart solutions for our customers. Because we have a clearer picture of where there is scope for shaping the future,” says Michael Fried, Executive Board Member for Sales, Marketing and Innovation at Bene. Background “Challenge the Future of Work” is a quantitative survey that supplements the 2018 qualitative report, “Future of Work”, scrutinising and challenging its expert findings. Some of the responses confirmed the assertions of the initial report, while others were more than surprising. The report summarises the findings relating to four relevant aspects of the future of work – digital transformation, management culture, methods of collaboration and the sense of purpose and identity that employees associate with their work today.