The Future of Work

Humans have certain anthropological drivers. Smart organisations recognise that to fully engage their people at work, they need to cater for these drivers.

The industrial era gave rise to great economic progress because it recognised the power of process and automation. In the perfect scenario, the factory would be fully automated because humans are inherently inefficient. People are prone to tiredness, distraction, illness, boredom and other conditions that can impact operational efficiency.

So, it is only with reluctance that industrial era business owners employed people. Most of these people are probably not aware that whilst they have a job title, they are really a technology placeholder.

That is to say, they are employed because at that point in time there was no technology available that could undertake the role, hence the reluctant need for a human.

Human waste

The majority of people in industrial era organisations (organisations of typically ten or more years of age) are being underused from a cognitive capacity perspective. This leads to both stress and a sense of emptiness for the workers.

However, they typically stick with the job because they have a lifestyle to fund.

With the arrival or AI and robotics, many of these technology placeholder roles will disappear.

While this has the potential to be economically devastating, it will at least end the inhumanity of spending a large part of one’s life being a compliant, underutilised and miserable cog.

But the good news is that if we start treating humans as humans in the workplace, we can both harness their full potential and create a more rewarding environment for all. Organisations get better results; People are happier.

Organisations need to meet nine anthropological drivers in the workplace if they are to attract and retain the best talent.

By talent I mean people who can create value over and above technology-driven alternatives.

So, What Exactly are the Anthro Drivers?

  • Mobility – We are designed to move. Typically to hunt down food, avoid being food and to approach future mates. Sitting for ten hours, or more, behind a desk is not what he human body was designed for
  • Sociality – We operate best in a pack. As hunter gatherers, it increased the chances of securing our next meal. This mentality in ingrained in our genetic makeup.
  • Work-Life integration – The world doesn’t operate on a nine to five basis. Work-life balance is the preserve of those who do not love what they do professionally.
  • Creativity – Creativity enabled us to evolve from using a rock as a weapon to a rocket as a form of transport. Innovation is fuelled by creative thought. We must have the safety to be as creative as our minds allow.
  • Autonomy – We have a tendency to want to put our own signature on our output. Micromanagement turns it into the boss’s art and thus decouples us from a successful outcome beyond our contractual obligations.
  • Curiosity – Experimentation is key to moving forward in a volatile and uncertain world.
  • Courage – This is required if we are to break away from the status quo and explore uncharted territory. We must create safe environments where employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo. After all, this is the essence of innovation and the conduit to all of humanity’s progression
  • Productivity – We tend to want to have our productivity recognised. Otherwise people feel like labour or horse power, or even merely human resources. This will crush motivation, innovation and a desire to be the best possible person you can be.
  • Spirituality – We need to feel that we are spending a very significant proportion of our lives doing something more than just making the shareholders rich. Legacy and the impact one makes on the world is becoming ever so more important

The Talent is in the Driving Seat

Some leaders might take the view that there is no need to pander to the needs of the workforce. Surely as technology takes over more roles, the pool of grateful workers will simply increase? This is very true for those workers who do not step up to the new challenge of turning their cognitive capacity into market-valued innovation.

But these are not the people digital age organisations need.

There is a growing group of people who know how to turn their brain power into market value, but this talent pool is not growing in line with market demand.

Consequently, they will call the shots in terms of the relationship with your organisation.

What is more, given that they will have plenty of engagement options, they will likely gravitate to organisations that meet their human drivers.

Business Transformation is Required

Many organisations have already upped their game in respect of talent acquisition, but retention will be an issue if these Anthro driver elements are not met. Thus, this is a business transformation issue and not just a matter of talent management.

I would argue that job number one for digital age organisations is to acquire and retain the best talent. Creating environments that enable people to do great work is required.

In my view, digital age talent managers need an appreciation of anthropology.

The Enlightened Road to uncapped Business evolution is in our reach. Right here. Right now.

If you are able to become “the best you” it will create confidence and harmony by fusing your mind, body and soul.

you will discover what your purpose is. What you stand for and truly believe in.


  • Discover a business model that can be used to evolve your existing outfit into an organisation fit for the digital age.
  • Learn how smart organisations focus on building assets, rather than simply making a profit.
  • Understand that by harnessing our human nature, we can create better businesses for all stakeholders.
  • Appreciate why building your business around tribal success factors enhances your chances of success.
  • Think like a futurist in order to help you see potential threats and opportunities that you couldn’t see before. Learn about the power of foresight – and how to set yourself apart from your competition.
  • Identify the tools that enable you and your organisation to embark on its digital journey.
  • Recognise the importance of getting your people on board.
  • Acknowledge that the changing nature of work / jobs / careers is such that the digital age will not be suited to those who enjoy the comfort of conveyor belt certainty.
  • Learn about the business, people and technology trends transforming business around the world. How can you possibly plan without knowing all the driving forces having an impact on your business and industry?
  • You must innovate to survive today. Innovation is critical to future survival. But less than 1% of companies have a structured innovation program in place.
  • Automated systems will bring you more clients, make you look amazing, save you time and increase your profits.
  • If you are the CEO you should be spending significant time in all parts of the business. Spending a full day in the warehouse, talking to packers, forklift drivers and despatch personnel will yield a treasure trove of information required to understand the adoption of disruptive technologies.
  • Organisation must adopt the good old-fashioned teamwork approach. The goalkeeper is equally important as the striker. They both have the equal desire for the team to win however, they have different individual goals, training methods, skills and very different metrics in respect to their performance.

About The Author

Tony Jacobson is an authority on business model reinvention. His new book “Finding Your Ultimate Business Model” will be released in April and available at Tony also is a senior consultant at BBG Consulting and Advisory – a high-level team of expert consultants that provides mid-tier corporations ($20 – $200 million turnover) with strategic advice and implementation guidance on complex multi-disciplinary projects. See more at

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