New Work in Retail 2021

New Work in Retail 2021

Transformed, not handed down – New working practices in the retail sector

The EHI white paper on New Work in Retail 2021

The EHI Retail Institute is a research and consulting institute for the retail industry and a partner of the E-Commerce Institute Cologne. The new EHI whitepaper provides interesting statistics on the topic of New Work in Retail. Get exciting insights into the topic here or visit the EHI-Shop for the full study!

Remote work and digitalization have increased sharply in retail, especially at corporate headquarters, and are the catalysts for discussions about the transformation of the work environment. „Beschleunigt durch Corona sprechen heute viele Gründe dafür, dass New Work nicht nur ein nettes Extra für die Handelsbranche ist, sondern vielmehr eine notwendige Voraussetzung, um zukunftsfähig zu bleiben,“ (English translation:”Accelerated by Corona, there are now many reasons why New Work is not just a nice extra for the retail industry, but rather a necessary prerequisite for remaining fit for the future”) says HR expert Vanessa Tuncer, describing the findings from the current whitepaper “New Work in Retail 2021″. 71 percent of the HR managers surveyed see New Work as a must-have for the retail industry.

Work in progress 

Even though the pandemic has brought a lot of movement into the work environment, there are still a number of tasks to be completed before the transformation to a New Work model can take place. 64 percent of HR managers in the retail sector state that their company is already in a transformation process, and a further 10 percent are planning measures to drive such a process forward. At the top of the list of measures already taken are flexibilization of work location and working hours and the topic of process digitization, which almost all (90 to 100 percent) have already tackled. Communication, leadership and the flexibilization of structures and processes for greater agility are also important fields of action that three quarters are already pursuing in order to implement New Work in retail.

Agile on the sales area

The transformation process is not only an issue for the headquarters of retail companies. The flexibility, agility, self-determination and transformational leadership implicit in New Work are also topics that have potential for the HR managers surveyed in the study. More than half of the respondents (58 percent) trust store personnel to fully (19 percent) or at least somewhat (39 percent) coordinate their working hours in a self-determined manner. The HR managers also see advantages in the digital transformation in the stores, which relieves employees in the stores of routine tasks and thus enables them to use resources for advising customers.


The complete study will be available in the EHI-Shop and on from 5.7.2021.

Graphics for download:  

Data basis

A total of 31 companies took part in the survey. The food retail sector and the “fashion & accessories” sector are most frequently represented, with 10 and 8 participants respectively. A good three quarters of the companies surveyed (24) represent the brick-and-mortar retail sector, including 5 participants who report annual sales (in Germany) of over EUR 5 billion and are therefore among the largest brick-and-mortar retailers in Germany. Six participants belong to the omnichannel retail sector, one company is from the pure online retail sector. The total sales of the companies surveyed correspond to an estimated 25 percent of total German retail sales in 2020 (EUR 505.9 billion).


Ulrike Witt, Project Manager Research Area Human Resources, Tel: +49 (0)2 21/5 79 93-994,
Ute Holtmann, Director Public Relations, Tel.: +49 (0)2 21/5 79 93-42,
EHI Retail Institute e. V., Spichernstraße 55, 50672 Cologne, 

About EHI
The EHI Retail Institute is a research and consulting institute for the retail industry and its partners with around 80 employees. Its international network includes around 800 member companies from the retail, consumer and capital goods industries as well as service providers. EHI collects important key figures for brick-and-mortar and online retail, identifies trends and develops solutions. The company was founded in 1951. The president is Kurt Jox, and the managing director is Michael Gerling. GS1 Germany is a subsidiary of the EHI and the Markenverband and coordinates the allocation of the Global Trading Item Number (GTIN, formerly EAN) in Germany. In cooperation with EHI, Messe Düsseldorf organizes EuroShop, the world’s leading capital goods trade fair for retailers, EuroCIS, where the latest products, solutions and trends in IT and security technology are presented, and C-star for Asian retailers in Shanghai.