Strengthening employees mentally: New Work during crisis

More than just technical equipment for working from home: How we can handle the challenges of a volatile work environment.

Reading Time: 4 min

Woman working remotely on a laptop computer

FACE the Challenge method: Finding clarity, staying agile, creating the perfect environment, sticking with it

“FACE” stands for focus, agility, coordination and endurance. The former boxing world champion and entrepreneur Wladimir Klitschko derived these four core competencies from his own success story. Together with Tatjana Kiel, the CEO of Klitschko Ventures, he developed this method to help find clarity, work on his own agility, coordinate resources and show mental strength, even during trying times.

Those who only think of working from home and modern office environments when they think of New Work ignore an important part – the human psyche. Here’s how Audi is managing to make a “better normal” out of the “new normal”.

Climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine – bad news seems to have become a daily occurrence. A lot of people feel powerless and helpless in their private lives, and insecurity is perceptible at the workplace as well. For several years, experts have been talking about VUCA – a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Now it’s becoming palpable, requiring a change of thinking and new solutions.

Focus on the essentials: Learning from Wladimir Klitschko

Porträt Tatjana Kiel von Klitschko Ventures

Focus on the essentials: Learning from Wladimir Klitschko

Tatjana Kiel is someone who knows what it means to deal with a crisis while remaining mentally strong. As CEO of Klitschko Ventures, she has been successfully marketing the FACE the Challenge method since 2018. Kiel co-developed this method, which is based on the boxing world champion’s years of experience. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, however, a new task became the priority. As the founder of the non-profit limited liability company #WeAreAllUkrainians, Tatjana Kiel aids relief efforts – from providing emergency aid and transporting goods with the help of leading German companies to initiating city pacts for sustainable cooperation. This is much in keeping with Wladimir Klitschko, with whom she keeps in daily contact.

 

During a workshop organized by Audi on the topic of New Work in September 2022, Tatjana Kiel shares how to successfully focus on the essentials, even in volatile times, thus strengthening one’s own resilience. “If I know who I am and what I can do, I can clearly communicate what’s important to me and what I’m passionate about,” the manager says. It’s not for nothing that focus – the “F” in her successful FACE method – is ranked first, ahead of the aspects of agility, coordination and endurance. Kiel says that you always need this broad perspective to feel self-reliant and avoid negative spiraling. “If I hadn’t been living by this method for such a long time now, there’s no way I would’ve emotionally overcome the challenges of the last few months.”

Porträt Tatjana Kiel von Klitschko Ventures
Tatjana Kiel, Klitschko Ventures – ©Rieka Anscheit

“better normal”: Hybrid work at Audi

Working at the kitchen table or in the hobby room, calls between math and kids’ TV shows – what started as emergency solutions during the coronavirus pandemic have since become a part of many people’s everyday lives. According to a PwC study, 88 percent of employed people in Germany want to be able to work partially from home. A lot of companies are adapting to this. With its “Hybrid Working” company agreement in September 2022, Audi also aligned itself not only for a “new normal”, but a “better normal”.

 

More than just technical equipment

 

Employees at Audi can now choose how often they want to be present in the office and whether they want to participate in a desk-sharing model or would rather keep their own office space. This new company agreement also allows for new part-time models and more flexibility for employees in production.

 

But “better normal” entails more than just technical equipment, modern office environments and flexible working times. Audi is also giving its employees and managers mental tools to bring along to their new work environments. Because when teams largely interact online and the social cement of the workplace decreases, more flexibility and autonomy can become a burden for some.

Junge Frau am Laptop arbeitet konzentriert im Home-Office

Resilience initiative: Inner strength training

One example that shows how Audi supports the mental strength of its employees is the location-spanning resilience initiative in the Supply Chain department. This department, responsible for logistics at all Audi locations, faces particular challenges during times of crisis. That’s why the department launched the empowerUS@resilience project in mid-2021. Its activities are focused on personal resilience, team resilience and organizational resilience. For instance, in multilingual workshops and individual discussions, employees can learn techniques on how to deal with stressful situations. These are continually refined as needed. The key questions are: How can I learn to solve a problem better? What do I need to act on? Should I try to leave the situation, should I adapt, or should I try to change something about the situation? Through this initiative, the employees in the Supply Chain department can get a little bit closer to the answers to these questions.

 

Resilience initiatives are an inherent component of Audi’s Healthcare department. “The crises of our times demand enormous mental strength from our employees. We support this with a holistic healthcare approach, all the way down to a mental health checkup,” said Andreas Haller, Head of Audi Healthcare. Together with his team, he’s creating working conditions that promote employee health while simultaneously offering room to speak openly about weaknesses. This strengthens resilience – even in times of crisis.

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