When ‘Work’ is no longer work

The future is one in which you probably won’t have ‘a job’. That is not to say you won’t work, just that you will work in fundamentally different ways.

How we work, with whom, what we do and for how long, will be increasingly influenced by the need to be flexible and adaptable. We as individuals — our skills, experience, aspirations, reputation — will be more visible for companies that, in turn, will become less hierarchical and more permeable.

We wrote this article collectively, as leaders in what will probably not be called Human Resources much longer, from Adidas Group, Capgemini, Cisco,Intel, Swiss Re and WL Gore & Associates. We pulled our heads and hands together in an effort to work out work — what it will look like in the future and what we need to do about it today — under the aegis of the Brussels-based EFMD. Below is our sneak preview of the future as we see it coming up fast.

If you are interested in our full story you’ll find it here.

The Revolution turned out to be Digital

It has become difficult to avoid the message: digital is taking the world by storm and transforming everything in its path. It drives an increasing change across the globe, to what is harder to predict than ever.

Digital transformation is driving our organizations to become more flexible to create and exploit new business opportunities. At the same time it is changing the expectations of how we work, everything from tenure to career, from how we relate to a desk to how we collaborate.

From Stability to Agility

In this digital vortex, organizations and their people need to evolve from seeking stability to embracing agility as “the ability to anticipate, respond, evolve, thrive, optimize and capitalize in a digitalized world.”

This requires a fundamental evolution in organizational structures and cultures. Organizations have to transition from hierarchies to wirearchies [Jon Husband] and must consider where they sit on a spectrum of transformational factors, where they need to shift, and the urgency behind the shift.

Take-off for Transformation

The way in which we define work and its structure will fundamentally change. Rather than jobs and roles, work will be thought of in terms of assignments, with teams assembled from the most suitable and engaged talent to execute them. Enterprise talent marketplaces will enable and embody organizational and talent agility. They will connect the work assignments needed to execute a given business strategy with the right people do to them, with their aspirations, experience, strengths and passion.

A new marketplace is emerging — for Talent
Individuals will have to rely more on their professional reputation and its visibility across internal and external networks, to shape a career on their terms, acquiring, developing and trading on their strengths and experience as they go.

Back to the Future

We believe the future of work can be described in a paradox: it will be a renaissance of the ‘world of work’ before work as we know it was invented. The digital revolution liberates “work” from the depersonalized perspective of the industrial era, going back to its original human roots of purpose, pride, personalization, community belonging and wider social impact.

We see the rise of a new breed of professionals who have much more in common with Renaissance master artisans than the blue or white collar workers we are used to: proud of what they do and what they create, working with passion and purpose, creating a personal reputation and brand.

From Permanent Employment to Professional Passport

As our organizations move from stable hierarchies to agile, open networks, corporations turn into a network of networks, and the enterprise talent marketplaces opens up to external talent.

The times of the single-employer marriage are over.

Having multiple employers — at times at the same time — is already a fast growing trend. A new professional passport will provide access to assignments in all companies leveraging the open talent marketplace. It will put an end to current concepts of loyalty and career: employability and utilization are going to replace them.

Want to know more?

We started by identifying fundamental people and business case for organizations and talent agility. They were the launch pad to start looking into the key enablers and inhibitors for our organizations to transform.

Then per each of these areas we laid out key trajectories from a stable into an agile world short-, mid- and long-term.

Have a look at our full story here.

Let our journey begin!

Our Team

These were the people actively participating in the EFMD Special Interest Group and authors of the ideas presented so far.

Adidas Group: Christian Kuhna (Director HR Strategy -Think Tank Future Trends & Innovation)

Capgemini: Will Peachey (SVP HR Transformation)

Cisco (Sponsor): Gianpaolo Barozzi (Sr. Dir HR), Tom Lamberty (Mgr HR) and Bill Jackson (Mgr HR)

Intel: Andrea Newman (Director - HR Strategic Office)

Swiss Re: Gian Paul Ganzoni (Head of Org Effectiveness)

W.L. Gore: Debra France (Leader and Innovator Development)

EFMD: Martin Moehrle (facilitator) and Shanshan Ge (coordinator)