During this uncertain time, leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how work gets done. The authors propose three ways to shift work, talent, and skills to where and when they are needed most: 1) Make work portable across your organization. Many organizations, such as Unilever and Cisco, have set up internal project marketplaces that break down work into tasks and projects so that it can be matched with people with the most relevant skills and availability from anywhere in the organization. 2) Accelerate automation. Automation can pick up tasks to increase reliability, improve safety and well-being, and handle sudden spikes in demand for certain types of work. 3) Share employees in cross-industry talent exchanges. This innovative response temporarily moves employees without work due to the crisis (e.g., airlines, hospitality) to those organizations that have an excess of work (e.g., health, logistics, some retail stores). This avoids the frictional and reputational costs associated with letting people go while supporting workers in developing new skills and networks.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced organizations into perhaps the most significant social experiment of the future of work in action, with work from home and social distancing policies radically changing the way we work and interact. But the impact on work is far more profound than just changing where people work; it is also fundamentally altering what work is performed and how we perform it.
Many workers are doing tasks they never could have imaged a few weeks ago — sometimes in ways they wouldn’t have thought of. Employees in apparel companies like Brooks Brothers and New Balance are now producing surgical masks and gowns, while Tesla, Ford, and General Motors have retooled their factories to produce ventilators from car parts after idling their automotive plants due to plummeting consumer demand.
With jobs at the heart of how work gets done, leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine them by rearranging work and having employees take on different responsibilities to better respond to the evolving needs of their organizations, customers, and employees. We propose three ways to shift work, talent, and skills to where and when they are needed most, thereby building the organizational resilience and agility necessary to navigate uncertain times and rebound with strength when the economy recovers.
1. Make work portable across the organization.
Given the current situation with Covid-19, it’s more important than ever to move people to the most mission critical…