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Job Crafting in the ‘Imagination Age’

  • January 5, 2022

We have entered a new post-Information Age period, and employers and employees both have to reimagine work

We will perhaps have to learn to live with a different level of attrition for quite some time. It can be turned into an opportunity to craft the jobs that our teams have been performing. A popular term coming out of COVID is “job crafting,” in which employees rewrite their own job descriptions to increase satisfaction and productivity. A research by Wall Street Journal suggests that when employees have the flexibility to customize their work, they’re more effective, more satisfied, and more likely to stay. It’s time to innovate employee retention strategies to suit the changing scenario.

Companies can also job-craft – a form of the sharing economy or crowdsourcing in which employees split their professional time between several companies. We need to re-examine each job, break it down to its smallest logical parts and figure out which can be performed remotely, which is not even necessary now, or can be performed by gig workers, and parts of the job that could be automated, and new value created for customers.

We have entered a new post-Information Age period, The Digital Singularity, when omnipresent technology and humanity combine. Consider this: The Internet of Things is happening. Video conferencing is embraced. Digital watches don’t just tell time, they monitor health. The immersive technologies of metaverses will allow remote collaboration in unimaginable ways and redefine the way we work, across the physical and digital space.

This current digital era sets up society for the next great transformation to the Imagination Age when technology both advances and recedes into the background, allowing it to serve its purpose of making work life more efficient to spur creativity. Employers and employees have to re-imagine work, how it is going to be delivered, assessed, and integrated.

Work-Culture needs a booster shot

Employers now face an important leadership challenge: to balance the flexibility they offer to individuals with the needs of the team and work towards the greater good of the organization so that creativity, diversity, and trust-building can thrive. Attracting and retaining the right talent while acknowledging that employees are “future-proofing” against the business is also important. It’s time to rethink Talent Management strategies, and also take a fresh look at the employee value proposition, with today’s context in mind:

  • The benefits package: Having already adjusted perks for the digital world, employers will continue to assess their suitability for a flexible and remote workforce.
  • A collective effort: Work culture needs a booster shot of “we,” and businesses may need to work hard to ensure that employees understand their responsibility to–and the benefits of–the collective.
  • A differentiated experience: Work has become more transactional thanks to the rise of tech tools, so companies must adjust the balance of the employee experience to be about more than just task productivity.

The pandemic has altered the way we look at our jobs and careers. Having realized how fragile our lives are, people are reimagining their priorities of life. Work is still high up on the list, as one needs to earn, but equally important is family’s and personal health, as newer strains of the virus continue to create havoc around the world. There has been a subtle but perceptive shift in organizational attitudes from parent/child, where the employee looks to the organization for direction, to adult/adult, where the employee operates with a heightened sense of personal agency.

Many people used the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate their life and work choices. They unlearned some old ways of working and began to build new habits — like spending more time with their families, serving their communities, and avoiding the daily commute. Companies and leaders must soon realize that when people want more autonomy to live a multistage life, the organizational variable they most treasure is flexibility — flexibility about both where they work and when they work, flexibility to take time off to explore, flexibility to launch a small company or work for a not-for-profit. Part of the move to an adult/adult organizational attitude is that many employees are now exercising their personal agency to advocate for the work lives they want.

Finding a sense of purpose – The 6Cs

The pandemic – and its personal ramifications – have presented us all an opportunity to find new identities, roles, and jobs more suited to our talents, ambitions, and purpose. For those who want a life of excellence and impact, it may be time to forge a new path. There are those who managed to pivot toward richer, more meaningful lives during this crisis. They did so by paying attention to and aligning six critical areas, or six Cs: capability (the talents you bring to the table), connectivity (the relationships you have), credibility (your reputation), contemplation (an ability to step back and look at the bigger picture), compassion (for yourself and others), and companions (people who make you happier and stronger.)

The bedrock of culture

The pandemic fast-tracked three interwoven transformation genres affecting every industry: the embracing of digital technologies, the creation of new business models, and ushering in new ways of working. There is an underlying connection between these three kinds of transformations – it’s to do with the organization culture. In the beginning of the pandemic, most companies were worried whether this glue called culture will withstand the onslaught of the virus. Let’s see what happened.

Companies realized that a cultural foundation was the common factor that helped them sustain and even improve their performance during this period of near total remote work. Trust, as always, was a critical element of culture as physical supervision of work was replaced with management by objectives. Companies in which people trusted each other performed better than others. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that companies that focused on culture were five times more likely to achieve breakthrough results in their digital transformation initiatives than those that didn’t.

Companies realized that the bedrock of culture will help us survive and thrive even through the most trying situations in the future, if we continue to nourish it through our behaviour, through living our values and understanding that the purpose of being in business is not just to make profits, but to help transform society, change lives, and create sustainable solutions for the planet. Most importantly, organizations must recognize that a culture shift has happened during the pandemic, the effects of which will be long-lasting.

While IT departments are rapidly configuring and deploying devices, infrastructure, and software to support the shift in a secure and productive way, employees are likewise having to reset priorities and learn new ways to engage with their co-workers and managers, and navigate their career goals. This shift requires not only changes in technology and IT approaches but also reinforcement of culture and values.

The Head of Remote Work

Talent management is totally different from how it looked only two years ago, with some level of remote working becoming essential in many industries, rather than the nice-to-have option it was before the Covid crisis. LinkedIn created the role of vice-president of flexible work in April 2021. the company decided to trust its staff to choose “when and where they work best”, largely to ensure that its change of policy was “managed thoughtfully and carefully”.

The head of remote work could potentially be responsible for aspects ranging from inclusiveness and wellbeing to logistics and IT, the ideal candidate will possess a wide range of skills. Having someone in this position enables the logistics of remote working and the issues that pop up randomly all the time to be handled swiftly. This keeps the focus on ensuring that the remote workforce is as productive as possible. the post as ideal for fast-growing organizations with 30-plus employees, of whom more than 40% are remote workers, adding that it needs to be a permanent role because “the remote workforce is permanent”.

The person will need lots of emotional intelligence to understand why people work, not just how. This will enable them to build remote working infrastructures that serve everyone concerned. This is definitely a strategic role, not a tactical one. They’ll be planning and communicating, rather than implementing tech. having a dedicated person to take the lead on remote working can pay dividends because this should help an employer to develop a culture that’s focused on the needs of its remote workers. Individuals with the right mix of skills and the mindset to build an entirely new way of working are still rare,” she says, “so they will command a premium.

A new dawn

We’re witnessing a new dawn, it’s as exciting as being in the threshold of a new revolution. It’s an opportunity to reimagine, the process of creating a different value through our work. There is no template for us to follow, we have to script a new one, continue to question the old ways and come up with new ones. This will be a continuous process and will influence everything from our purpose, culture, and how we evaluate work. Technology will play a dominant role, as will how humans will embrace, interact and use technologies to create an incredible future.

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