From digital workplace to daddy mode - an interview with Gabriel Rath
November 8, 2021
March 21, 2023
Moving from the kids' room to the office and off to the next appointment - between daddy mode and digital life. In our interview, Gabriel Rath talks about how he balances his daily life as a father of three daughters with his work. He not only enjoys New Work, but also finds a lot of strength and energy in his understanding of it.
1. You talk to experts about New Work and more, what led you to this?
I have been interested in the topic of communication and media since my childhood. I grew up in the former GDR in the 80s and already recorded songs from the radio and moderations with my cassette recorder from the West. Later, I was part of the school newspaper and deepened my interest in journalism and communications. A couple of years later, I worked for the Ostseesparkasse bank in Rostock as a communications manager. There we started with an interview format in internal communications. I went out as a roving reporter for about 700 employees, equipped with a microphone and a camera, and interviewed apprentices, colleagues and the board of directors. These were followed by interviews with guests and business partners. This not only gave me a lot of pleasure, but was also well received. In 2008, I published my first own interviews, initially in video format. I talked about topics such as cultural work and new work, which was the basis for my first webcast. This led to my podcast, which I have now been running for 3 years with 82 episodes to date.
2. With your experience, how do you define New Work for yourself?
Often, when people talk about New Work, they first ask what Old Work is. What is meant by "old"? And what can be improved in the world of work?
New Work is about exactly that - improving the way we work. There are many studies and statistics that reveal that a lot of people are unhappy with their working situation. What often happens is that people “work by rule”. The idea of New Work is to fill the work, in which we spend a large portion of our lives, with purpose and life. A positive life that we create in a self-determined way.
This is in line with Frithjof Bergmann, who was the founder of the New Work movement. He describes that life should be taken into our own hands. This includes the way we do our work. Meaning more planning and self-determination or reflection. Due to increasing digitalization and demographic change, all organizational models have been scrutinized. This has resulted not only in new space concepts, but also in new working models. In addition, the pandemic has made it possible to test new flexible working models, which is why the world of work is in a state of flux. Today, we are able to redesign work for ourselves and that's what I talk about in my podcast.
3. What is the most important thing for you in terms of work?
The most important thing for me is that work is subordinate to my top priority. As a father of three, that is my family. Everyone should first consider for themselves what their priority in life is and then sort and plan their life accordingly. For me, it means doing things at work that do not feel like work in the traditional, negative sense. At its best, work accommodates my strengths and energizes me. To that end, I have found something that I love to do and now have the benefit or privilege of having my hobbies intersect with my work.
These include blogging, running a podcast or even holding a lecture from time to time. It is essential that my tasks can be flexibly planned around my private and family life. In fact, my main task is to constantly reorganize and dynamically develop my work life.
4. How would you describe a perfect digital workplace?
For me, the perfect digital workplace is not a fixed location, but a flexible setting that I set up wherever I need it. Nowadays, we don't need much to work, often all we need is a smartphone, tablet or laptop and, of course, a good Internet connection.
My work locations change frequently in a day. In the morning, I usually start at home sitting at my desk, then I switch to the kids' room and later go to the office or to the city for an appointment. I can work from anywhere, but the place should be as suitable as practical to the way I work. For example, during periods of concentration, deep work, I rather need quiet spaces.
5. Many people fear that a hybrid work model for parents is not possible in the long term. How do you counter these claims?
For me, the deciding factor is the availability to set up my work setup. That means being able to work at home in a calm atmosphere, which is often only possible in a separate office room. For me, the focus is not on the question of home office, but rather on how I can do my job in the best possible way.
Generally, I think it is good that we all enjoy more freedom and flexibility and that many companies allow their employees to work from home. Anyone who has a family quickly realizes that home office is not always easy. By this I do not actually mean the place, but the mode in which one sets out as well. Also, when you're in a home office, you often get distracted or interrupted. The constant switching to get back into work mode is not always easy. Likewise, you should also be able to switch off again, which is important to recover.
6. Do you have any advice from father to father or father to mother on how to deal with this?
My recommendation for working parents is to separate work and family as best you can - in the separation lies the compatibility. I try to set up different blocks for myself. Therefore, I start the day with my family and take my children to kindergarten or school. By the time I pick them up again, I can work in a quiet environment. Family time for me means that I focus my complete concentration only on my children. Multitasking to manage family and work at the same time would only make both worlds suffer. So my tip is: schedule private slots in your calendar and tell your colleagues or clients about it - be transparent.
7. Gabriel Rath - Between Daddy Mode and Digital Life. On your blog you often use the hashtag #Dadof3Girls. What is that about?
The hashtag is part of my personal story. I have been blogging about being a father, my family life, and balancing family and work for a while now. I started by posting little anecdotes via Facebook, on topics like, "When you have small children and little sleep, a lot of things go wrong." This evolved into a column that I wrote for the city magazine Rostock. This was followed by articles on my blog "Daddymodus". Likewise, my top priority here is my family - my three daughters and my wife.
8. As a speaker, rapper, podcaster and father of 3, how do you get both work and family under the same roof? And which advice do you have for others to make it work?
Follow your passions! Try a lot of things and stick to what you enjoy. How do you find them? It's everything that brings you joy and things that make you forget about time. Then add some curiosity and you like trying new things, then the day is never long enough. These are activities that you do not have to do, but want to do.
Thank you very much, Gabriel, for many exciting insights on the topic of New Work!
If you want to know more about these topics, you can find out more in his podcast New Work Chat, LinkedIn or on his blog.