The New Way of Working has been implemented by several companies since the 80’s and 90’s. The employees and the managers of these companies had no permanent workspace and implemented flexible working and teleworking in their way of working (Van Tongeren, 2009). Bill Gates introduced the term ‘The New World of Work’ in an executive mail from Microsoft (Gates, 2005). This term means ‘Het Nieuwe Werken’ in Dutch. In this study the English translation New Way of Working (NWoW) will be used. The NWoW is a workplace where the employees enjoy work because of the flexible working hours and working environment, and therefore the employees are more productive. The individual is paramount and is supported by technology and the work environment (Microsoft, 2011).
The New Way of Working is a vision in which recent developments in information technology apply as a driving force for a better organization and management of knowledge work. It involves renewal of the physical workplace, the organizational structure and culture, management style and the mentality of the knowledge worker and the manager (Bijl, 2007). Aaltonen et al. (2012) state that the term New Way of Working is used widely but has context specific meanings. It is widely accepted that there is always a combination of Bricks (Physical space), Bytes (Virtual space) and Behaviour (Social space), involved using the term. Many supporters of the New Way of Working (NWoW) see the NWoW as a win-win situation, because both the employer and employee benefits from it. There is a more efficient and better cooperation among employees, and therefore there is less need for coordination and control by the employer, and thus the productivity per worker goes up and this ensures cost savings and greater efficiency (Baane et al, 2011). On the other hand there are still organizations who have their doubts about these advantages. Various studies (Pullen, 2011; Maarleveld, Volker, & Van der Voordt, 2009; Laihonen, et al., 2012; Appel-Meulenbroek et al., 2012) have commented that there is a general lack of objective (measured) data to show the advantages or disadvantages of the NWoW. This has led to a more reserved attitude of some organizations towards introducing the NWoW (Baalen et al., 2011). This is also visible in the results from Van der Meulen (2012). The results show a clear trend in the effort that is needed to convince management to introduce the NWoW. In the year 2006 almost 86% of the management was convinced of the NWoW, while in 2016 it is expected that 17% will be convinced and thus 83% will need convincing.
Although the NWoW might seems clear to many, a survey taken by Van der Meulen (2012) shows that 75 percent of the respondents point out that the Dutch term for the NWoW (‘Het Nieuwe Werken’) is unclear to them. It also shows that 67 percent of the organizations that are orientating themselves for the NWoW implications do not know exactly what the NWoW encloses and do not know what benefits it could have for their company. Half of the respondents even have negative associations with the term the NWoW. Despite this image a large proportion (72 percent) thinks the NWoW is here to stay and 42 percent of the organizations think that implementing the NWoW will be necessary within two years.
Research, conducted by Volberda, et al., (2005), among nearly 2000 organizations in the Dutch business community shows that it is more rewarding to invest in social innovation and not only in technological innovation. Social innovation is a general term for the other areas of innovation outside the technological. In contrast to the technological side of invention, it is the business side of innovation ‘ the management, the organisational determinants, the networks, the communication, the initiative and the ideas processes ‘ the numerous conditions that make innovation possible. In this study the focus is especially the influence of the NWoW on the networks of employees.
Social innovation is the renewal of the way in which organizations and individuals work, so that both labor productivity and quality of life benefit from it. The term social innovation was introduced to distinguish the traditional concept of ‘innovation’, which usually refers to technological innovation. Volberda (2005) concludes that social innovation leads to employee satisfaction, because employees are more satisfied with their work and work environment. This also reflects on the employee’s personal life.
Volberda, et al., (2005) conclude that socially innovative companies perform better than technological innovative companies. Volberda, et al., (2005) also conclude that social innovation leads to employee satisfaction, because employees are more satisfied with their work and work environment. This also reflects on the employee’s personal life. Social innovation leads to lower absenteeism costs because satisfied employees are proven to be less sick. Also, a happy environment means support from the environment, mutual understanding, less inconvenience to both parties and a good image, both for outsiders and insiders. All these components also have an effect on the motivation of the employee, and Volberda, et al., (2005) concludes that motivated and engaged employees deliver a better result and are actively involved in the development of the organization. In addition, job seekers are more inclined to choose a positive corporate culture with a sustainable image.
Pot & Vaas (2008) conclude that these recent developments, regarding the introduction of the NWoW, are in relation with the goal of increasing employee productivity in a larger perspective. They describe this with the term ‘Social Innovation’ and as an answer to the growing need for the continuous increase in innovation and productivity.
Porter and Ketels (2003) emphasised the importance of business networking for innovativeness. Influence of social networks at the workplace varies depending on the employee. The relationships with colleagues are largely responsable for the satisfaction and the behavior of eatch individual employee. Terefore social networksing have become increasingly important to gain access to valuable resources and career opportunities at the workplace (Regts-Walters, 2013).