Why Work and Jobs are Forever Changing
According to Steve King and Carolyn Ockels at Small Biz Labs, the two main reasons why traditional jobs are becoming more like freelancing are:
- People are reevaluating what they want from work
- For professionals, work is transforming into project-based, which now is being called “taskified”
About 15 years ago when I started talking about bringing in the best people around projects instead of focusing on cross-functional collaboration, many people looked at me sideways. But it is happening now because we are at a major inflection point when more and more people are asking different questions about the role of work in our lives.
And as more people make different choices, there is no more business as usual. The next five years are foundational to how organizations respond to these shifts. Much will be told in later years about conscious leaders who took risks and also asked much different questions while trekking into new territories.
But in the meantime, here are some of the current shifts taking place right now.
The Great Questioning
After decades of layoffs, cost cutting, rightsizing, downsizing and everything in between, working 9 to 5 jobs at a corporation is no longer providing security.
The last few years has many of us thinking about the role of work in our lives and questioning how we make a living. We are seeing a surge in people choosing a digital nomad, location independent lifestyle as the focus becomes on quality of life.
Flexibility, autonomy and mental health are becoming driving forces of healthier choices as debates rage now on remote work, hybrid work and being forced back to work in an office. And yes, we are all different and there are some people who can’t wait to get back to the physical office.
Many of the ones who can’t wait are leading major corporations, while those who prefer remote or hybrid work are providing the flexibility and autonomy they want. Trust and courage are at the heart of these decisions.
In their report, Steve King shares, “While not a new trend, the taskification of work has been accelerated by the pandemic. The new book Work Without Jobs describes this as “deconstructing jobs into their component parts and reconstructs these components into more optimal combinations that reflect the skills and abilities of individual workers.”
This taskification of jobs leads to greater workforce agility and flexibility, which is growing in importance due to the pace of change and competitive pressures.
Taskification also results in more project-based roles instead of the steady, regular, ongoing employee roles of the past. And these new project-based roles look a lot like freelancing.”
They also share that internal gig marketplaces are being created like Fiverr and Upwork, where people’s skills are matched with projects and roles within the organization.
Like Nature, Shifts Are Happening
None of this is new as after massive layoffs after the last decade, many employees also returned to their former employers as freelancers. This is from my book, Our Journey to Corporate Sanity (2016): “Work and jobs as we know them are forever changing. The cracks in our business systems are starting to show, and the opportunities for change are abundant.
Old employment contracts are shifting. The concept of a job for life no longer exists. We are moving into a project-based world that will transform expectations and allow people to perform more project work.
Organizations will need more generalists who can move between projects, organizations, and roles, and tap into their ability to build purposeful human-to-human relationships. We will no longer separate soft and hard skills so sharply, and we will need people who are excellent community builders and connectors of people and projects.
This will fundamentally change how organizations attract, retain, and engage people and bring people closer together around shared purpose.
As more people declutter and simplify their lives and new lifestyle options appear, we can expect some early adopters to make different decisions when it comes to traditional careers and how they approach ownership of homes and cars, and move into sharing resources. This is already happening in many countries in the world.
It is time again to reflect on Buckminster Fuller’s question: “How do we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?”
Maybe we are all a bit slower than Bucky. He shared with us in his 1983 Grunch of Giants: “I do know that technologically humanity now has the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to operate our planet in such a manner as to support and accommodate all humanity at a substantially more advanced standard of living than any humans have ever experienced.”
There is no better time than now to embrace this wisdom.”