I can vividly recall a conversation I had years ago with my best friend in college. We had just concluded our summer internships and were deliberating over our future careers. Like many elder millennials, I deeply desired work that aligned with my interests and leveraged my creativity – but I was also acutely aware that I would likely not make much money in those fields. My best friend had a very different stance: he asserted that work was just a means to an end – a way to simply fund our actual passions and interests – so it was simply a matter of optimizing our financial goals against our tolerance for the job.
This paradox would haunt me for years to come as I moved from one role and company to the next, seeking the personal fulfillment I craved along with the financial stability I needed. Over the course of my career to date, I built products that enabled efficiency and automation for countless users, developed insights that fueled business growth, and constructed operating models and processes that drove productivity. I consider myself fortunate to have held positions that challenged me and afforded me opportunities to team with excellent people, but I always felt like something was missing. That something – I now know – was: purpose.
There is a dark side to all of this wondrous technology that we have unleashed upon the world. Efficiency and automation have displaced tens of millions of jobs in the US and will displace tens of millions more in the coming years as artificial intelligence and robots become more widely adopted. Business growth has generated tremendous wealth, but the majority of that wealth is concentrated at the top thereby exacerbating wealth inequality to record levels. The relentless pursuit of higher and higher productivity has reduced us to mindless automatons and dogmatic bureaucrats. We need to question if this is the progress we had intended.
Technology has also made us increasingly disconnected as human networks have been supplanted by social networks and the rapid pace of global change and disruption have broken traditional models of employment and labor. Gone is the era of the single-employer career, the pension, and the nuclear family. Furthermore, we are engaging less and less in communities as families are increasingly distributed geographically, church attendance is in rapid decline, and other organizations where diverse relationships would be formed are replaced by internet-enabled echo chambers. We are reaching a point where our workplace is the most significant community to which we belong.
Work itself has undergone a rather fascinating evolution over the millennia from the farmers and craftspeople of prior ages to the gig and knowledge workers of today; in between are all manner of ugly and regrettable forms of work like slavery, indentured servitude, child labor, pre-union factory work – many of which are still in use today. Somewhere along this history, greed and apathy have stripped away the humanity from work. Somehow we have forgotten that workers are human beings deserving of dignity and that referring to them as resources, assets, or headcount creates the same psychological distance as referring to a cow as beef or a pig as pork. We have a moral obligation to see each other as the living beings we are.
The future of work is not about hybrid remote models or artificial intelligence or freelancing – these are unfortunate and myopic perspectives that omit the true purpose of work in today’s world. The future of work is about saving our humanity: to acknowledge and respect each other as fellow humans, to build communities that enable us to grow and flourish, to create and apply technology that works for us – not against us. This is what the future of work means to me and this is why I am beyond excited to be joining the executive team at Delegate – a company that shares this human-centric vision of the future and embraces the vulnerability, courage, and compassion required to realize it.
Delegate is challenging many of the fundamental precepts we have about work. From obvious aspects like work location and organizational structure to more entrenched concepts like employment models and compensation schemes. Delegate recognizes that reshaping the future of work to be human-centric requires us to revisit and reevaluate the paradigms and perspectives that we have all admittedly taken for granted – understandably so given that we were never taught any other way. Perhaps even more striking is the goal to foster a culture that is not only foundational to such a revolution, but also facilitates the dissolution of the artificial boundary between “work” and “life” – imagine how much fuller we could be as people if we lived in a world where such a distinction was wholly unnecessary.
I have never felt a stronger sense of purpose and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to help Delegate show the world what is possible when we prioritize building people over products and making progress over profits. There is much to be done, but the stakes have never been higher and the mission never more noble. If the story of this grand experiment touches you in any way, please reach out and let me know. We have much to learn, but one thing has always been abundantly clear to us: that which we can achieve together immeasurably exceeds that which we can achieve alone.