Are we entering the era of jobless work?

The office job that was once the only path to success is ending. This is due, in part, to the pandemic and how quickly workers have proven they can work remotely. Since March 2020, performance has held steady or improved, productivity levels remain high and EBITDA continues to grow. So why are organizations reverting to past practices and requiring people to return to the office for in-person work?

Futurist, global thought leader, and best-selling author Ravin Jesuthasan believes this legacy operating model can be transformed with a different type of work experience that will help organizations continue to execute on their missions.

In his latest book, Work without a job, Jesuthasan points out that the pandemic would fundamentally reset the work experience. He wanted to get ahead to rethink the model. “Inertia and legacy are two powerful forces,” he said in our extensive interview. “There’s been about 140 years of learned behavior, and it’s really hard to undo. However, in the last two years, leaders needed to see what new muscles needed to be built, so they didn’t have to force all of their workforce back to 2019.”

Our discussion fascinated me with this new operating model and the pillars needed to move forward. “There are two fundamental issues that will shape the new world of work,” Jesuthasan said. “How do we redesign work to allow talent to flow as seamlessly as possible while sending it the signals, assets and resources, to allow that talent to perpetually reinvent itself? And the second is how are we envisioning this talent experience so that we meet people on their individual terms instead of forcing them to fit into our ‘one size fits all’ model?

The world has come so far in such a short time throughout the pandemic. Going back to the way things were before seems very counter-intuitive. We know that organizations will continue to digitize and automate. We know that some tasks will disappear and new tasks will emerge. So how do we ensure that talent can continue to reinvent itself?

“I think we have to keep in mind that the work done by anyone in various types of work engagement models is important,” he said. “It could be an employee, a gig worker, an employee of your contractor, maybe an employee who is not tied to a job but to a pool of nimble talents.”

Jesuthasan shared four principles that he believes will help propel organizations towards alignment with the digital world.

  • The first principle is focus on the work itself. Don’t focus on where the work is happening, rather on the “what” of the work itself.
  • The second principle is to ask, ‘What is the optimal combination of human and automation?
  • The third principle is to understand ‘where people can engage in work, where skills then become the most important asset.
  • The fourth principle asks, ‘how do we systematically eliminate labor friction costs by allowing talent to flow into it? »

Organizations must perpetually reinvent their work operating system and the talent model itself by investing in skills development.

Jesuthasan articulated a new conceptual work model for HR by removing the need for job descriptions. Instead, the goal should be to elevate the concept of skills and tasks.

Is there a place for HR to effectively create a pool of free agency where tasks or projects could be thrown into a pot by business units, along with an ecosystem of employee talent and skills? For example, could an employee decide to try something new for six months, almost like an apprenticeship or secondment model, bundled under a free agency banner?

Do we see this as part of the new future of work? “Absolutely,” Jesuthasan said. “I think strategically we’re at a place where HR is shifting its role from steward of employment to steward of labor and learning how to maintain the perpetual relevance of the workforce.”

It has become very clear that the organization’s skills and talent market is becoming the future of work, not just a job or its description. When we leverage multiple markets, we see how compelling they are. “Not only do they discover the skills that people already have,” Jesuthasan remarked, “they are able to match those skills to emerging bodies of work and expand the capacity of the workforce.”

“It doesn’t matter where the work and the talent come from; it’s important that you have options to choose from, whether it’s internal, external, live, etc.”

Wise words from a wise thought leader.

Watch the interview with Ravin Jesuthasan and Dan Pontefract in its entirety below or listen to it via the Leadership NOW Series Podcast.


Check out my 4th award-winning book, “Conduct. Care. To win. How to become a leader who matters.” Thinkers50 #1 ranked thinker, Amy. C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School calls it “an invaluable roadmap”. follow me on Twitter Where LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

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