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Untapped’s Thesis: How the New Future of Work Will Create Human Breakthroughs

Work as we know it is rapidly evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major catalyst for this change, but disruption in the workplace has been a long time coming. Over the past decade, employers have learned to slowly embrace and take advantage of machines and software as aids for employees.

This technology helps with task-based work which is often thought of as work that can be automated. Reducing costs and enhancing efficiency were some of the great outcomes of this tech implementation but employee displacement, burnout, and psychological stress were an unfortunate result of this new style of work.

It seems that somewhere along the tech-infusion journey employers lost sight of the bigger picture. Instead of redesigning work to suit the employee experience (EX), unrealistic expectations and demands were placed on them. Because of this, performance and productivity have suffered and the consequences of these changes have led to dissatisfaction with both the employer and the employee.

It’s time employers recognize the value their human teams bring to the table. From creative design to ethics and interpretation — there are many skills that machines and technology will never be able to produce. At Untapped, we firmly believe the New Future of Work will be in redefining where work is done, how technology is used to complement human skills, and fundamentally shifting roles from basic task completion to innovative solution finding where people thrive.

Increasing Productivity

One of our core focus areas is productivity. We’re dedicated to developing platforms that simplify our work and help manage our lives. Think of the tools you use to make communication and project management more efficient. Zoom, Slack, Monday.com, Asana, DropBox, and Loom are just a few of the big innovations to have impacted the productivity space and in the contactless environments we are living in, these tools are critical. Each of these unique platforms helps us connect, collaborate, and work efficiently. Our goal at Untapped is to remove friction from remote processes and leverage AI to record work being done in real-time.

Slack and Zoom were yesterday’s tools, what are the next generation of productivity tools? Our vision is to build and invest in new productivity tools ushering in the next levels of productivity in a distributed environment paying attention to how we build trust, get into and stay in a flow state, have fun and better enjoy the work experience (WX).

Reimagining Professional Development through Purpose, and Passion Discovery & Actualization

Most employees today are engaged in work that doesn’t align with their personal passions and purpose in life. This causes conflict and issues when it comes to motivation and workplace culture, as an unsatisfied employee is never going to produce the above-average results employers are looking for.

Our mission is to find a way to use technology and human insight to help individuals determine their ideal purpose, their highest calling in life. As A.I. continues to disrupt industries, large swathes of the population will be forced to switch careers — i.e. re-skill or lose out. Think of the X million truck and Uber drivers who will be out of jobs in the next 10 years once fully autonomous vehicles dominate the roads.

It doesn’t stop there- according to a 2019 Brookings Institution report, approximately 25 percent of U.S. employment (36 million jobs in 2016) will face high exposure to automation in the coming decades with greater than 70 percent of current task content at risk of substitution.

Previous innovations such as Coursera, Udemy and Udacity allow people to have easy access to self-education and Masterclass took a pretty unique shot at the same goal by giving people access to learn from the greats in their respective industries. The ability to discover and pursue interests, values, and passion in order to gain meaning is a critical driver of professional happiness and enrichment.

At Untapped, our internal team is working on a platform to take the fear and confusion out of switching careers, re-entering the workforce, and finding true vocation for one’s life work.

Enhancing Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial innovation solves the world’s greatest problems. Entrepreneurs create companies that solve problems and as a result, jobs are created and lives are changed. While large enterprises employ large workforces, there are 30.7 Million small businesses in the United States and nearly half of all Americans — 47.5 percent — are employed by them.

So, why is it still the case that 8 out of every new 10 startups businesses fail? How can we cultivate more prosperity for entrepreneurs? What would it take to create entrepreneurship as a career the way “law” and “medicine” are developed as vocations? Answering these questions and exploring these scenarios is very important to us.

We are building and investing in companies that enhance the field of entrepreneurship and help innovative people find success faster. We currently run three different programs for entrepreneurs at various stages- pre-seed, seed, and growth- to learn how to take their ventures to the next level as efficiently as possible. By strategically backing startups and providing them with a suite of our Studio’s resources, we are committed to helping reduce the startup failure rate so that entrepreneurs are able to innovate effectively and create new tools for the world to enjoy.

Delivering Well-Being at Work

Employee well-being is no longer assumed. As the stigma around mental health issues is reduced, we are just now realizing the staggering statistics on the wide scope of issues that can affect an employee’s ability to focus and be their best self at work. With the added stress of our current work from home environment, these stats became even more grim. According to the 2019 Workplace Wellness, Employee Insight Report published by Capita, 43% of employees have sought professional help for a mental health issue, while 45% have actually considered quitting their job because of the stress they regularly suffer.

It’s clear that surface-level benefits like beer on tap and ping pong tables are not good enough solutions to the growing workplace wellbeing problem. These artificial “perks” need to take a backseat to real holistic well-being solutions that help employees thrive.

Job redesign will be a major piece of building the future of work, especially in a post-pandemic world. In this remote work age, employees are battling competing pressures to find a balance between home and work life. As a result, the stress of being “always-on” is taking a huge toll on peace of mind, productivity, and happiness.

Environments and expectations have changed and will continue to evolve which means it will be more important than ever for employers to provide resources, structure, and tools for employees to thrive both professionally and personally. Employers are going to have to get serious about employee well-being to remain competitive with other firms. Offering to cover a gym membership or pay a wellness stipend is no longer a comprehensive employee well-being package.

At Untapped, we are reimagining the employee experience and developing products, platforms, and solutions to help customize employer well-being benefits from the ground up.

As an example of our commitment to this initiative, we’ve invested in LifeGuides, an early-growth startup that matches employees going through a life challenge with a “Life Guide” who has successfully navigated through that specific life challenge. This platform is an affordable solution that some members find more valuable than their health insurance. We believe it is exponentially better than a traditional EAP plan.

Similarly, we’ve invested in Pocket Confidant, a life coaching A.I. platform that employees can use as an alternative to traditional therapy. Using psychology’s reflective coaching technique, this tool allows a user to chat with a bot and get immediate relief within just a 15 to 30-minute conversation.

Emerging Models of Work

The emerging models of work are disrupting the status quo and introducing flexibility to the workplace. For employers, this represents a shift from hiring full-time to hiring as needed. For workers, this means the opportunity to pursue projects aligned with passion and adjusted to suit the demands of each individual’s unique life circumstances. With the emergence of platforms like UpWork and Fiverr, The Gig Economy has helped this transformation take hold. Additionally, organizations like WeWork and platforms like Breather have given the new models of work a space to thrive.

At Untapped, we are deep-diving into the experience of Gig Economy-workers to learn about their needs and struggles. We are rethinking employment from the bottom up and re-designing the elements of how we work, who we work for, and the ways in which we are rewarded.

Summary

As a whole, our Future of Work thesis centers around helping employees achieve breakthroughs and make the best use of their time and potential. We understand that the landscape of employment is changing and we are developing proactive solutions to take advantage of existing and emerging technology in a way that complements human skill and power.

Our mission is to discover new ways of driving growth for organizations, creating value across the workforce spectrum, and improving the human condition on a fundamental level.

If you are an innovative corporate looking to innovate, a founder looking to co-build with us, or an investor in the Future of Work space and our mission resonates with you, drop us a line at hello@untapped.la.

Untapped is LA's startup studio helping founders start, validate, build, accelerate startup growth and drive promising ideas to Seed Stage funded! 💸⚡️🚀