Work and Life integration: Nobody will feel bad about posting on slack that they are taking a personal hour at work, just like it’s ok to take a work call at home.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview TaskHuman CEO and Co-founder, Ravi Swaminathan.

Ravi Swaminathan is founder and CEO of TaskHuman, an app that connects employees 1:1 via video call with a global community of live specialists in nearly 1,000 aspects of daily work and personal life.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

I’m always inspired by everyday acts of kindness towards other humans. Growing up, watching my parents donate their entire life’s earnings to worthy causes was a big source of inspiration. Being based in Silicon Valley, it can be easy getting caught in an unproductive spin cycle, but at the same time, I’m inspired by the generosity of strangers that we’ve been fortunate to be the recipient of, whether it’s from advisors, employees, investors, customers, or partners who all love what we do and want to help.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

What will be the same? People/humans will always be the most important asset to any business — that will never change. AI will help humans be more productive and integrate their work and personal lives better and achieve better fulfillment in both areas.

What will be different? “Instant” economy will be on steroids, i.e. I want something, and I get it right way”. Whether it’s instant grocery deliveries or access to information in real time, information and experiences will be at your fingertips within minutes or seconds. Further examples of this: Groceries being delivered within 10 minutes of ordering, instant access to human specialists for travel advice, yoga coaching, or just about anything, rental cars being delivered to you within minutes or ordering instead of booking in advance (like Uber vs Taxi).

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Double down on your people. To best future-proof their organization and retain talent, business leaders must create an environment where employees feel valued and are offered resources that help them build healthy behaviors and help the employee feel good about both their personal AND work life. As a result, employees will see their workplace as an invaluable resource that supports their unique individual lifestyle — this is key to surviving today’s competitive work culture. Employees are your organization’s most valuable asset. When your employees are taken care of, they are more inclined to care for the company and fulfill their work.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

With the employee landscape changing, people working remotely, and working hours being more fluid — there is a shift from work-life balance to work-life integration. As people find their new normal, organizations will only survive if they take responsibility for multiple aspects of an employee’s life, in both their work and personal life.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

The future of work will be for the employer to actively support and welcome this integration of work and life to help the employee feel fulfilled. For instance, just as it’s now ok to take business meetings at home, it should now be ok to live at work. For example, you should be able to take a call from the doctor about a sick kid or call your car mechanic while at work.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

Active support of work and life integration will be the key. And this is required of our families, our governments and society at large. More men taking on so-called traditional responsibilities like taking care of the kids, more help from government on maternal and paternal leave (The US is still behind in this area), and general acceptance of the employee in a “come as you are” model — meaning take the longer-term view and let the employee be themselves and be authentic to who they are. You might be getting an employee who has a sick grandmother that he has to take care of. You might be getting a single mom who’s got obligations to pick up her kid at 8am and 3pm every day at school. Over a 3–5 year period, if you support the employee as a whole, they will more than change your company trajectory for the better.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

As I meet more and more CHROs, I am blown away by how much people wearing this hat truly care about the humans/people in their company. That said, my optimism about the future of work really rests on these incredible individuals and their abilities to influence their CEOs and CFOs to allocate the right resources in each company to support the employees in each company.

Our collective mental health and well-being are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and well-being?

We’re starting to see more that corporate board of directors are feeling the lack of consideration into employee well-being as a substantial threat to the sustainability of the enterprise. They are increasingly demanding an articulated employee well-being strategy. To show the commitment and value of supporting each employees’ well-being goals — whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual — employers need to go the extra mile to prove that they value well-being and provide the resources to accomplish these necessities.

To do so, organizations must turn to more holistic employee benefits. This means covering not just the traditional “benefits” for when people fall ill like medical dental and vision and access to mental illness support for diagnosing and treating depression, anxiety, etc., but also an integrated, preventive, wellbeing plan for every employee. A well-crafted wellbeing strategy should go beyond an employee assistance program, nutrition management, and financial coaching — with other key areas for personal growth that include holistic well-being in areas such as physical fitness, mental wellbeing, leadership coaching, and more to cover multiple aspects of an employee’s work and personal life.

These benefits attract and retain top talent, provide accessibility for global workforces, reduce turnover costs with flexible work-life balance solutions, and support the whole individual through comprehensive well-being networks to provide ongoing coaching, support, and growth opportunities.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

A narrow-minded approach is often the downfall of many companies in overcoming today’s resignation culture. Many companies do not consider how differently employees value and define workplace happiness, eliminating the opportunity to integrate organizational benefits with each employee’s unique and personal goals and lifestyle. So, pay attention to headlines but more importantly really spend the time understanding your employee base and what their needs are. For instance, do you have a well-being survey? How do your employees rate you on a scale of 1–10 in how best your employee feels their company supports them?

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends to Track in the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Work and Life Integration.

  • Work and Life integration: Nobody will feel bad about posting on slack that they are taking a personal hour at work, just like it’s ok to take a work call at home.

2. Project Based teams will be the future for better execution.

  • Project Based teams will be the future for fast better execution: Instead of the traditional hierarchy of decision making, with global remote teams, project teams and team leads will be the norm instead of the traditional manager/employee structure to execute faster.

3. More shared experiences between employees of companies despite meeting in person less.

  • More shared experiences between employees of companies despite meeting in person less: Software technologies like Slack, Zoom/Teams and others will help everyone feel like they are equally part of the action and remove distance or location of the team as a critical factor to team success. Shared experiences in both work and personal life will via software tools will lead to better team success.

4. Come as you are” trend will lead to deep personalized support for each employee.

  • Come as you are” trend will lead to deep personalized support for each employee: Every employee will get benefits and work support based on their individual needs rather than a generalized policy.

5. Consumerization of employee benefits will lead to less clinical/EAP usage.

  • Consumerization of employee benefits will lead to less clinical benefits/EAP usage: More focus on personal wellbeing and preventive care via easily accessible consumer driven apps/tools will lead to less usage on clinical/EAP benefits.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

For the last 2 decades, I’ve only had one piece of printout on my desk in an otherwise clean desk. It is Robert Fulghum’s “All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten.”

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Big fan of Ryan Day, Head Football coach at The Ohio State University. His personal support of mental well-being and mental health as well as excellence on the coaching side taking over for a legendary coach before him presents unique opportunities for learning his perspectives.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Tag us on @taskhuman on your favorite social channel.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.