Preparing For The Future Of Work: Neelesh Rangwani of Wishup On The Top Five Trends To Watch In The Future Of Work
An Interview with Phil La Duke
Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication: The future of work demands that organizations invest in creating a culture where creativity thrives, collaboration is facilitated, and communication is encouraged. The current trend of leading by example requires this cultural shift to be driven top-down with the effective involvement of employees. Collaboration not only refers to the cooperation between teams and functions but also between business leaders and HR heads.
There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.
To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.
As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Neelesh Rangwani.
Neelesh Rangwani is the Co-Founder for Wishup, a virtual assistant staffing agency that connects a top-tier talented pool of individuals with U.S. business owners/entrepreneurs.
Neelesh, after completing his MTech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras worked with KPMG’s Management Consultancy Division. He then joined Rocket-Internet’s Fab Furnish as a marketing manager before moving to Germany to join another venture of Rocket Internet.
Skilled in digital marketing, growth strategies, product management, customer relationship management (CRM), and start-ups, he co-founded Wishup in the year 2015 along with Mr. Vivek Gupta. Wishup works together with their clients towards a common goal to achieve business growth, with only the top 1–2% of total applicants making the cut.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I was born and brought up in a middle-class family in Bhopal, a small town of Central India. I was a studious child in school and got into IIT Madras (premier technology Institute of India). Among my experiences those that I consider life shaping have been: meeting highly competitive people in IIT, establishing my early career in digital marketing within the ecommerce industry, and international exposure due to working in European and Australian markets at an early age.
What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?
I foresee employers experiencing major shifts due to the widespread long-term adoption of remote work:
Employers will face stiffer competition from bigger players in the market because the local talent can now be absorbed by big companies remotely.
Employees will prefer employers who are flexible with location.
Sharing bandwidth of employees with other employers will be a norm.
Employers who adopt remote work early will see a massive jump in their operating margins caused by access to affordable talent. This will give them a competitive advantage and more capital to reinvest in their businesses.
The choice as to whether a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high-profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs, it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether to go to college?
The presence of high-profile millionaires and billionaires without a college degree is a clear case of survivorship bias, in my opinion. Most people without a college degree earn less than people with college degrees, on an average. Becoming a millionaire or billionaire is a rare occurrence regardless of a college degree. What a college degree ensures is a certainty of a well-paid job in a competitive market.
College education is important and will always stay important.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?
The doom and gloom prediction will come to an end soon. Technological advancements have always saved mankind and have created more wealth for them. As a result, we are living in times of unimaginable abundance and the lowest unemployment in the history of humanity.
Job seekers will always have to keep up with times and get work that supports their lifestyles and matches their interests. The Internet has created so many jobs that didn’t exist 20 years ago. The same internet is creating a “Remote” opportunity so that people can get the best suitable jobs according to their talent and interest.
The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?
Technological advancement will always create more opportunities than it destroys. It will definitely automate old redundant jobs, but it will also open newer frontiers for human beings to keep building. Imagine completely new areas like space technology, faster global mobility, green energy, and many more domains where people can employ themselves.
To plan their careers, people should learn to unlearn old skills and relearn new skills multiple times in their 30- 40 years-long careers. This is going to be a key factor that will define success in these times.
Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?
We want this trend to continue, but we anticipate a partial reversal in this trend after the pandemic is under control. Humans are wired for ‘going to work.’ Hence, we believe that many people would continue going to an office. In my opinion, the world will reach a midpoint between ‘completely remote’ and ‘traditional office’ immediately after the pandemic. However, as the newer generations enter the workforce, remote work would become a long-term norm.
What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?
People will need to build permanent home offices ─ hence, slightly bigger apartments and homes to create dedicated office spaces.
Completely virtual friendships with work colleagues will be a reality.
Special cities to support remote workers across the world will emerge.
Cities and countries will compete to acquire the best remote talent from which to choose.
Family ties will become stronger as people spend more time with parents and kids.
What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?
Employers will find it difficult to accept the decline of the concept of full-time work and the emergence of gig and bandwidth sharing.
A ‘work from anywhere’ culture would be difficult for employers to accept when their workforce does not come to the office every day. The dynamics of productivity and performance have changed. It has changed the recruitment criteria for jobs. Employers now have access to a larger talent pool around the world; they are no longer constrained to a particular geographical location.
We learned through this pandemic that a great many of us don’t need to be located with colleagues on-site to do our jobs. Individuals, teams, entire workforces, can perform well while being entirely distributed — and they have.
‘Work from anywhere’ affects communication including: brainstorming and problem-solving; knowledge sharing; socialization, camaraderie, and mentoring; performance evaluation and compensation; and data security and regulation. Employers must find ways to overcome these challenges.
A major worry for employees is job security. Today’s work culture no longer caters to the job loyalty that was promised to earlier generations. ‘Work from anywhere’ culture has inbred the fear that it will either make their jobs more difficult, or they are worried that they may even lose their jobs.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion, how should this be addressed?
The US government had to grasp the new challenges presented by the pandemic. Benefit applications for all sorts of programs saw their technology overwhelmed and new programs had to be created and distributed to more and more people. I saw strength in a drive to be innovative in meeting these needs. All levels of government need to learn from what had to be changed and adopted — and then work at carefully planned communication to all types of workers: full time, part time, and contractual.
There are many great examples across the world where governments have been successfully able to provide adequate financial, health, education safety to all their citizens during the pandemic. Germany is a good example of that. Countries should study these models and try to imitate or improvise on them.
Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
People are now actively showing interest in learning, unlearning, and relearning, inadvertently reskilling themselves. With reskilling, we will find over 93% of the displaced workforce could move into growing, skilled, and usually higher-income jobs.
Even when the global economy seems paradoxical, new opportunities do exist. The jobs prospects are widely different now compared to the past. I see three key reasons to be optimistic about the future of work.
Recovery from 2020 economic crisis
The unfolding of a less clearly defined job market
The availability of work from anywhere job options
Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between the job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?
First, I believe we need to develop a granular vision of who needs help to keep their jobs or find new work. Then, the task is to Identify where jobs are at risk and where there is additional demand for temporary jobs — citing cities, sectors, occupation, and demographics. For this view, we need a special focus on small businesses and the most vulnerable workforces including those in the gig ecosystem and the unorganized sector.
To create this granular vision governments, institutes and organizations need to work together to picture where there is a shortage of workforce and where there is excess demand. Special focus should be given to support small businesses, as they account for the majority of temporary jobs in most countries.
Companies need to provide employees with other benefits such as training programs to rapidly build the skills needed for their new roles. Also needed are growth opportunities within the company, employee mental health care and overall wellbeing.
Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends to Watch in the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Outsourcing by start-ups/SMBs. The outsourcing industry was traditionally built around big enterprise clients like telecoms and banks. But now, at Wishup, we see start-ups hiring remote talent from India.
- Work from home forever. To attract talent, companies will offer work-from-home forever options to their employees. Many big tech firms have already rolled out this option for their teams.
- Countries/Cities set up to support remote work. Countries like Estonia offer e-residency options to attract gig/remote workers.
- More diversity in the workplace. As more companies hire remote workers abroad, companies will see more diversity in their teams.
- Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication: The future of work demands that organizations invest in creating a culture where creativity thrives, collaboration is facilitated, and communication is encouraged. The current trend of leading by example requires this cultural shift to be driven top-down with the effective involvement of employees. Collaboration not only refers to the cooperation between teams and functions but also between business leaders and HR heads.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?
‘A “Yes” to something, is a “No” to something else.’ We have limited time in a day, and we should choose our tasks/ projects very carefully because what we choose to do decides what we choose not to do. Everything has an opportunity cost. One should know which battles to fight to win the war.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to meet Travis Kalanick, co-founder and former chief executive officer of Uber. Uber’s concept is one of the very few magical products I’ve ever seen.
Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?
Interested people can follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neeleshrangwani/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.