Modern Work Tour: modern ways of working around the world
By Helena Pumberger, 19.04.2023
34 countries – four continents – more than 130 companies: the two owners of the management consulting company MOWOMIND, Anna and Nils Schnell, spent two years travelling round the world researching new and innovative ways of working. The international New Work experts ‘The Schnells’ share their findings in this interview and experiences.
What did you look at on your Modern Work tour? How did it go?
We set off on our Modern Work tour, a kind of modern journeyman’s travels, to study the question “What types of modern ways of working are there around the world?” Between 2018 and 2020, we travelled to 34 countries on four continents and visited companies in all kinds of sectors – from start-ups to big corporations. We focussed mainly on new ideas about leadership, modern working methods or companies that were organised in a new and different way, like the self-management proposed by Frederic Laloux, for example. But it was also important to us to find companies with which medium-sized businesses in German-speaking countries would be able to identify. After all, the example set by the Silicon Valley giants may be exciting, but it’s often very far from our experience here at home. That’s why we visited not only business hotspots like Singapore, Tel Aviv, Shenzhen and Lagos but also hidden gems like Kigali in Rwanda, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On our Modern Work tour, we collaborated with over 130 companies, while continuing to look after our clients in Germany remotely, even before the pandemic.
What does “new work” mean to you?
We understand “new work” as being proactive in creating modern working environments and making work better for people in meaningful ways. So we were building on the idea put forward by the founder of the “new work” concept, Frithjof Bergmann, that the main question is to find what you “really, really want”, and are now adding the “really, really doing” part to our “reflect and act” approach.
In which countries is “new work” being most promoted and becoming a reality?
We found aspects of modern working in all the 34 countries that we visited on our Modern Work tour, albeit different versions of it. It was interesting that the concept of “new work” isn’t very well-known around the world, and people talk more about the “future of work”. As an example, it was exciting to see how in Rwanda the mechanism for setting up a new company has been so greatly simplified that you can do it in just a few days. Or how one woman in Mongolia was on a mission to help build a healthier society, and that motivated her to start up the country’s first natural skincare brand.
What’s the picture like internationally – outside Europe?
Lots of people are realising that the world of work is changing fast and they want to respond to that with different ways of working, so that they can be proactive in shaping the future. It’s interesting to see that we all have far more in common than there are differences between us. For example, the main motivators everywhere in the world are sustainability and diversity. All around the globe, those are the drivers for creating a new world of work. In our book, we introduce 9 principles of Modern Work that describe these common factors in greater detail.
Is your world tour still continuing?
Yes, our Modern Work tour is still going on – starting on 6 October. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to interrupt our modern journeyman’s travels in Africa, so now we’re on our way to South, Central and North America. That will complete our round tour of the world, and we’ll finish where we at first didn’t even want to go at all: in Silicon Valley. Maybe they’ll be inspired by our global insights?
What can readers expect from your book about the Modern Work Tour?
Our readers will find a book that’s an unusual mixture: it’s a business guide including practical examples and company portraits; it’s the personal travel journal of a couple of entrepreneurs from Hamburg; and it’s an inspiring photo book, because we have some great photos taken by drone to show our beautiful Earth from above. You can find the latest tour dates and some exciting videos to accompany the book on our website, www.mowomind.com. We hope you’ll have lots of fun reading the book and travelling with us in your imagination.
Photos: Anna and Nils Schnell – MOWOMIND