The trinity of collaboration: labor law, mediation and coaching. Britta Redmann, Director of Corporate Development & HR at VEDA GmbH, lawyer, author and coach, reveals valuable insights and tips on how new working models work. She not only talks about legal security in the workplace, but also about what needs to be taken into account in order to live New Work.
1. Labor law, mediation and coaching, what do they have to do with collaboration?
All three areas help to make collaboration as positive as possible and satisfying for all involved. Each area represents a different solution model, and together the areas cover a comprehensive portfolio. When resolving conflicts, for example, looking at a problem from three perspectives using different methods can help find solutions. The three pillars also partially flow into each other, I also use these myself in the way I consult. For example, I also incorporate my knowledge from mediation and coaching in my labor law consulting in communication.
2. As an independent lawyer and Director of Corporate Development and HR at VEDA GmbH, how do you define New Work for yourself?
For me, the term New Work describes new forms of collaboration, which are based in particular on networking among each other and therefore with minimal hierarchies. This creates a work culture that makes it easier to deal with the highly dynamic nature of our current working world. Employees can take responsibility for shaping their own work and are much more involved in decisions or make many more decisions themselves.
3. Your books often deal with agile working and legal security. What should companies pay particular attention to and what should employees know?
Both sides, employees and companies, should have clear and well-defined regulations that create a mandatory legal basis and at the same time avoid conflicts. This includes creating a contractual regulation for working from home. For example, most employment contracts specify the company headquarters as the place of work. If someone now wants to work from other locations, such as from home a contractual agreement is needed to extend the employment contract with this possibility.
It is also good to know that new accident insurance regulations have recently come into force. These state that the same regulations apply in the home office as for accidents in the office. This means that my work in the home office is fully insured. Accidents that are completely in the private sphere are excluded from the regulation, such as if I am injured while plugging in my stove. In addition, commuting to and from remote work is included in the settlement. Therefore, I am also covered if I pick up my child from daycare from my home office.
As a rule of thumb, during my home office time, I am covered the same way as I am in the office, but the work locations must be contractually defined.
4. You have created a guide for digital working called " New Work - Exploiting Potential, Avoiding Stumbling Blocks". What is it about? Where do you see potential and what are common obstacles?
Especially smaller medium-sized companies often know little about the new forms of work or have little time to explore them in detail and are therefore overwhelmed when it comes to implementing them. The questions start with the organization of working hours and go on to the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid work or of certain ways of working, all the way to how it can be possible to enable employees to work more independently and in a network. In this guide, Birgit Wintermann and I have addressed these exemplary issues and outlined pragmatic areas for action. In addition, we provide legal tips on what should be considered in the various work models and how they can be implemented in small steps in a legally secure manner.
5. When redesigning the digital way of working, what are your top three tips for companies to ensure that everything is legally compliant?
The very first thing that should be clear is the "what" and "why": What is the actual goal, benefit and need of the company and why do they want to redesign their way of working? Every company should be able to answer this question in advance.
As a second step, I recommend finding out about the legal framework. If I understand my legal framework, then I can fully exploit my creativity in the development of this framework. Acting in a legally secure manner creates commitment and trust, and this in turn is the basis for change processes. In this respect, legal certainty provides stability during change.
My third tip is to involve works councils in change processes at an early stage. On the one hand, this allows co-determination rights to be respected, and on the other hand, successful communication can be conducted jointly with the employees. Both are very important and critical success factors.
6. Do you have any special advice that you often give to companies?
For many companies it is difficult to develop their own individual working models without having a concrete framework. Here, I would like to encourage them, particularly when designing new work concepts. It is essential to look at the needs of the employees and the company and how these can be brought together in the best possible way for the benefit of both sides. This requires individual solution models and trial and error. Various ideas should be given a chance to gain experience. What works well can be analyzed and continued to be lived. What does not work can be prevented in the future. In this way, the best individual solutions can be found in an explorative way. It is very important to note that mistakes can be made in such a new approach in order to learn from them. And there is something else that I consider important, especially in these difficult times of a pandemic, and which actually applies to all of us and not just to companies: to look at what I can do myself to keep myself in a "good" mental state, and sometimes it already helps to give someone else - or even myself - a smile. Then everything goes much easier.
In difficult times, like in times of the pandemic, companies should try to stay in a good state without getting discouraged.
Thank you very much, dear Britta, for the many exciting insights and tips on the topic of New Work! If you want to know more, you can find out more on Britta's website or LinkedIn.