Are you ready to start #NewWork-ing?

#NewWork logoWe are at a crossroad. The world is facing ever more demanding and complex challenges. And while the United Nations is needed more than ever as the anchor of a “networked and inclusive multilateral system”, it can only do so if it becomes more adaptive, nimble, fast to respond, and tailored in its responses. Transformation and greater organizational efficiency and effectiveness have been a constant goal for the Organization. The Secretary-General’s Common Agenda and vision for “United Nations 2.0” continues to articulate the drive and impetus for organizational flexibility, agility, and transformation.

The ability to deliver, to proactively respond to and even prevent future crises, depends on a fundamental rethinking of the UN’s organizational culture.

Over the years, various reforms, including the three pillars of UN Reforms have brought about key structural, process, and technological changes. Reform also brought about important changes to our operating model and objectives and culture change is necessary to better align the behaviours and mindsets of personnel globally to the new objectives.

Successful collaboration requires a joint understanding of how our colleagues work and make decisions on a day-to-day basis. Newly formed teams, partnerships and collaborative initiatives need to establish a common understanding of language and behaviours. This process takes time.

Various efforts have been undertaken to manage reform and transformation over the years. Some initiatives have been more successful in their change management efforts than others, however, the broader – and often more abstract – issue of organizational culture change required to embrace such structural shifts has not always been addressed strategically or consistently.

The UN is not alone in facing this conundrum. In general, for complex and multi-dimensional communities such as the UN, organizational culture is rarely addressed on a global scale and often remains siloed within entities, resulting in uneven and small-scale transformation. Further exacerbating the issue, training and learning have been heavily impacted by budget cuts over the years.

The United Nations “NewWork” initiative offers a blueprint for aligning culture change initiatives and to scale and amplify change more strategically, consistently, and inclusively through its global network of change agents. NewWork is a staff-driven initiative that proactively aims to change our workplace culture and co-create the ‘UN we want’. Originally co-created by entities in Geneva, it has grown to include hubs in New York and Bangkok.

NewWork empowers personnel at all levels to contribute to driving organizational culture change. NewWork operates around five thematic areas identified by personnel as priority areas for change: collaborative environment, empowered networks, fit for the future, innovation and risk-taking, and flexible working.

These themes align to the Values and Behaviours Framework, as well as Our Common Agenda and the vision for UN 2.0. Taking a non-siloed, collaborative approach to organizational change, NewWork coordinates transformative initiatives, but also brings together people leading transformative activities to exchange good practices and scale.

To reap the full benefits of UN Reforms and to maximize networked multilateralism as envisioned in Our Common Agenda, cross-pillar integration and implementation is key. Programmatic and operational integration should improve efficiency and delivery on mandates and reduce fragmentation. Addressing organizational culture change more systematically and strategically will ensure that the behaviours and mindsets of UN personnel align to these objectives. We need widespread adoption of behaviours and practices that support networking, encourage collaboration across silos, foster greater dialogue, and are open to diversity and inclusion.

Links for UN staff*

*Login required. "Staff" is used in an inclusive matter. #NewWork welcomes ALL UN personnel (e.g. contractors, consultants, interns, volunteers, etc.) to participate in transforming our workplace.


Let's Reimagine the UN Together

COVID-19 has presented unexpected challenges, but also numerous opportunities for collaboration, innovation, learning and transforming the United Nations together. Have you asked yourself what the UN is going to look like as the world continues to respond to and recover from the #pandemic? What has this difficult time taught us that we want to hold on to? And what do we want to change?

We leveraged the creativity, experience and skills of colleagues from across the UN system to deliver innovative ideas and run dialogues with staff across the globe!

The challenge and dialogues were based on input from over 4000 colleagues across the UN System who participated in a pulse check in April 2020. The results are published below:

Since then dialogues have been held to co-create a vision for our Next Normal workplace. The dialogue mechanism designed and piloted by NewWork has been recommended for institutionalization.