The Future of Work


  • Work is broken.

    Too often, work burns or bores people out. It’s too easy or too frustrating. There’s little sense of meaning, direction, progress, focus, control or personal development. People might not say they hate their job - they’ll say it’s OK - but they’re not truly excited for what they do. They’re wasting their lives at work - and life’s too short to be wasted.

    Somehow, society has come to accept that work kind of sucks. It’s either work OR play, as if work shouldn’t be a great experience. But both people and companies lose in this equation. It should be an outrage, but it’s not. So it’s high time to do something about it.

    This is why we founded Vivic, The Work Design Lab - to fix work. We help modern leaders design jobs that people can love. Forget work OR play, how about work AS play? Work as something that lifts people up, instead of putting them down. The potential is there. How do we unlock it?

    The first key is DESIGN. Think about this for a second - why do people play games, do sports, learn an instrument? Because they love it. These activities offer positive emotions, a sense of development, a good experience. And this is no accident - games and songs and sports have been designed to feel awesome. The fun doesn’t just happen. It takes a human-centric approach to get it right. You have to empathize, build a creative solution, test and iterate. You apply design methods that are proven to work. More and more companies are embracing customer-facing design in graphics, products, and services, because it helps them produce amazing experiences.

    Companies don’t do it with work itself, though. People are either matched to a rigid job description in a big corporation or left to their own devices in a mismanaged team. Rarely do leaders sit down and think, „how can I make the experience of work great for this employee?” But get this: not only are you wasting peoples’ lives by not designing work. You’re absolutely leaving money on the table, too.

    Well-designed work is like a good game - it’s engaging. Engagement is the measure of a person’s commitment, focus, their willingness to go the extra mile. This is the stuff that drives innovation and great results. Crucially, engaged employees work more for the fun, for the challenge, for the meaning, and less for the bonuses, perks and options. In addition to fueling personal happiness and wellbeing, companies with highly engaged employees are more profitable, have less turnover, have fewer people reporting in sick, etc. Engaging jobs are a clear competitive advantage. So how do you make them happen?

    The second key is SCIENCE. Companies rarely design work, because it seems difficult. There isn’t a clear playbook, there are few exact measurements to see how you’re doing. This is why we rely on the ideas and methods of modern behavioral sciences to come up with novel job designs and measure their effectiveness. We work with active researchers, including leaders in the field of work psychology, such as prof Arnold Bakker.

    Science matters. A ton of management practices blindly follow hype and intuition. At best, they’re harmless wastes of money; at worst, an active cause of damage to your company. When we’re talking about people’s experiences, we’re talking about real, scientifically measurable things that happen in their minds. You can’t make work great without a cutting edge scientific understanding of psychology, of flow, of engagement. We don’t believe in something just because it’s popular. We study it so we know that it works, why it works and how it works.

    Here’s a simplified example to illustrate. Research says that there’s no great experience without mental focus. If you have an open, noisy office, or a culture of constant meetings, you won’t get the best from your people. There are multiple ways to design around this problem. Have regular no-meetings-mornings. Create a „do not disturb“ signal, like a flag on the desk. Set up smaller, isolated spaces for heads-down work or intense problem-solving. A few hours of focused work will improve both the experience and the results of work. Because a real organizations faces more complex problems, we develop diagnostic tools to make changes with precision, and tools to measure the impact of an improvement almost instantly. You can iterate upon a work design with unprecedented ease.

    In the future, work will be seen as a great experience, like a good game. We say that Vivic is The Work Design Lab, because we’re writing the playbook, doing the research and building the tools to bring that future forth. Work can be designed to be engaging as well as profitable, fulfilling as well as productive. In this future, everyone will win - because people do their best when they do what they love.

    Kaspar Kruup, co-founder
    www.vivic.work

    VIVIC - The Work Design Lab


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  • I like to believe that the future of work will depend a lot on VR.
    where people don't have to wast time in transportation!

    they just wake up... do whatever they do each morning, then put their VR device on to be in the office!

    the team will be in the same virtual office.. but each person can see a different office view!
    or play a different office music!

    and they can play tons of games :D

    would be even much better when a magnetic suit is invented (like a swim suit) to simulate the same feeling of having a handshake, hug, or even a punch !

    I also like to believe that more jobs will be task oriented instead of 8-hours-aday oriented... and each task will have a deadline (like a game) and if you finish it early, the remaining time is yours to enjoy more with family or however you want!

    oh boy... I daydream a lot :D

    M. Sherbeeny
    Entrepreneurial UX & Business Designer
    Sherbeeny.com



  • Hey, Muhammad, and thanks for your thoughts.

    You're on the right track here, and I'd add a few things. I follow VR developments closely and I'd wager that by the time it hits mainstream and becomes a mature technology, work itself will be going through an even more profound change than what you've described.

    Due to developments in automation and artificial intelligence, we'll be seeing a shortening of the workday, followed by a decrease in employment in the traditional sense. It is projected that 50%+ work will be automated in 25-30 years in some western societies. That places demands on those societies to most likely provide a living wage for many people, freeing them up from work better suited for machines. But that places demands on leaders who still need human employees, because the experience that their work provides will have to compete with a life of play, adventure, leisure and creation. So I think you're correct in the sense that work will become very gamelike, but probably even more so than we imagine. Furthermore, the people who aren't working in a traditional sense will still be involved in the world (most likely via VR), creating, curating and consuming entertainment, culture, intellectual content that they can share with others. So we might witness the birth of a new digital economy, with a very different understanding of work. We're seeing glimmers of it now in the creative economy, but it will become much, much bigger.

    Some thoughts, this whole discussion could obviously warrant a few books worth of discussion.

    Kaspar

    VIVIC - The Work Design Lab



  • @Flowtime inspiring!

    M. Sherbeeny
    Entrepreneurial UX & Business Designer
    Sherbeeny.com



  • Dear Kaspar,
    I have just stumbled on your excellent post on "The Future of Work" and Flowtime. Well done! Having just watched some of the US Super Bowl it struck me that your references to games can also apply to physical games like football where the participants pour their hearts and souls into uplifting, motivational elements you identify in Flowtime! And there is clearly a strong link to the market enthusiasm for such "games". I will write you separately on thoughts of how we might apply Flowtime to the motivation and innovation of a whole small country ... such as Anguilla! (15,000 residents, 98 sq/kms, ~7000 labour force)
    Cheers, Lyn



  • Hey, a notice from us:

    Since posting this thread, we've rebranded from Flowtime to VIVIC. Our ideas evolved and we had to evolve with them. See more on our webpage www.vivic.work

    VIVIC - The Work Design Lab


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