Work life 4.0:

Moving towards the ‘we culture’ era

A manager is only as good as their team and vice versa – but applying this is easier said than done. After all, there are often a lot of strong personalities in a workplace, which can lead to clashes. How can the power of the collective be successfully harnessed? Trend researcher Ali Mahlodji sums it up in just a few words: we need a ‘we culture’.1

Humans are creatures of habit. Change is uncomfortable and difficult, but with every new generation and every diverse group come new beliefs and ideas that should be integrated into how we do things. Should be? No. Must be! Because humans are also social animals. We interact with one another, we learn and we progress. And this means constant change.

We are only just starting to see how ‘underlings’ have become self-confident ‘individualists’ with their own demands. And we also need to recognise that having someone on the team who is an individualist who thinks for themselves is no guarantee of the advancement of a company, structure or team. The new trend is to have a ‘we culture’ that empowers ‘me’. The focus is on the individual and how they interact with the complex workplace environment. In the future, it will no longer be the productivity of individuals that’s important, but the team relationships that give the company its strength, explains Ali Mahlodji, trend researcher and international entrepreneur.1 In clinical settings in particular, which have always involved a team effort, this new trend is really worth looking into.

Three crucial factors for success

To develop a ‘we culture’, three key components are required: professional empathy, diversity and intergenerational learning. This is what Ali Mahlodji argues in his book Next Level Work – Eine Anleitung zum mutigeren Arbeiten (Next-level work – guidelines for bolder working).1 But professional empathy isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Essentially, it’s about being curious about the views of one’s colleagues and listening to what they have to say. This means being aware of different viewpoints and not taking mutual understanding for granted. Being curious helps to prevent unusual ideas from being rejected too quickly, which helps to expand one’s perspectives to include the views of other people. Understanding where one’s colleagues are coming from means changing one’s perspective. This leads to changes in one’s own points of view, which can often be uncomfortable. But it can be worth it.


Changing perspective: moderating instead of managing

Those who present their ideas to a team unilaterally are often surprised when the process takes longer than necessary or struggles to get started at all. Mahlodji believes that a manager should not issue instructions and, contrary to popular belief, is often not the most intelligent person on the team. Honesty, a genuine interest in employees and authenticity – those are the new character traits required from a team leader. It’s about drawing on and making use of the knowledge and experience of the individuals in the team. ‘The power of questions is the key to an intelligent shift in perspective,’ explains Mahlodji – details in the download. The effect? The manager is no longer seen as someone who manages. Instead, they moderate the team.

Paying attention to diversity and intergenerational learning

Other factors that contribute to a modern professional environment are diversity and intergenerational learning. Diversity is often misunderstood. It’s not about having ‘more women’, ‘more cultures’ and ‘more difference’ per se; it’s about having diverse knowledge and experience. According to Mahlodji, the current pandemic has shown that diversity within society is not yet at the level it should be. For example, there tend to be more women than men in key worker roles, and women need to adapt their working hours to make them more flexible while also often having to take on all of the family responsibilities, according to the results of a Dutch study.2 In Japan, a study showed that single people in the nursing industry were given a heavier workload than colleagues with families – at the expense of their quality of life.3 Older people could remain in the productive process for longer if there were a professional environment adapted to their requirements.1

More customised working time models

In other words, this simply means that people’s working reality needs to be brought much more into line with their everyday reality. In the new ‘we culture’, all individuals should be able to develop their strengths in a way that is feasible and ensures their professional success. The workplace is a meeting place. Team leaders act as moderators between generations, genders, perspectives and opinions, and bring the potential and strengths of each individual person to the fore. Is this an impossible fantasy that bears little relation to reality, particularly for hospitals? Or a genius concept that can be followed and implemented with a little perseverance?

To trial or to wait

Just like our wider coexistence with other people, the world of work is also subject to constant change. Someone wanting to exploit capacities should be able to recognise the triggers that allow them to be harnessed. A current study of people embarking on selected healthcare professions has made it clear that they are on the whole satisfied with their work situation. The most important variable for job satisfaction is their colleagues. As expected, income was much less correlated with satisfaction.4 The team, i.e. the social sustenance, was given a higher weighting. Developments tend to be unstoppable once they get going, so it’s time to launch trials to look into new ways of working. Get started now!


Document to we culture:




Die Modern Work Tour: Eine Weltreise in die Zukunft unsere Arbeit (Dein Erfolg).

Schnell, Anna und Nils

Gabal Verlag, 2021


Entdecke Dein Wofür.

Mahloudji, Ali

Gräfe und Unzer Verlag, 2020


Unternehmen Krankenhaus.

Goepfert, Andreas, und Conrad, Claudia B.

Thieme Verlag, 2013


Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team.

Sinek, Simon; Mead, David, und Docker, Peter

Penguin Books, 2017



Dare to lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Brown, Brené

Vermilion (Penguin Books), 2018


Comment render les salaries heureux

Delcourt, Thierry

Tequi, 2018


Qu’est-ce qu’un chef?

De Villiers, Pierre

Hachette Pluriel Reference, 2019 et Audiolib, 2019



  1. Mahlodji A. Next level work – Anleitung zum mutigeren Arbeiten. Hrsg.: Zukunftsinstitut GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, 2021
  2. Yerkes MA, André SCH, Besamusca JW, et al. 'Intelligent' lockdown, intelligent effects? Results from a survey on gender (in)equality in paid work, the division of childcare and household work, and quality of life among parents in the Netherlands during the Covid-19 lockdown. PLoS One 2020;15(11): e0242249.
  3. Tanaka J, Koga M, Nagashima N, et al. The actual-ideal gap in work-life balance and quality of life among acute care ward nurses. J Nurs Manag 2021;29(5):998–1006.
  4. Ulrich G, Homberg A, Karstens S. Die Arbeitszufriedenheit von Berufseinsteigern in den Gesundheitsberufen. Gesundheitswesen 2019;81(02):99–105.

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