Work without Jobs: Work in the Era of AI Automation

Lia Golledge
4 min readOct 2, 2023
Work without Jobs

I finished reading the book “Work without Jobs: How to Reboot Your Organization’s Work Operating System” by Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau in one day (How do I do it? That’s for another article).

The book invites us to transition from a rigid job-based structure to a more fluid task-based model that leverages human expertise and automation. Work without jobs is the new work operating system.

New Work Operating System

The book touches on leveraging automation to optimize task-level combinations of human and automated work (through AI or other technologies). It’s not about replacing humans with machines, but creating a synergy that enhances productivity and frees humans to focus on more strategic and creative tasks.

They also mentioned the idea of a boundaryless ecosystem of work arrangements, which basically means work being done by workers who are not regular full-time employees. At Remote Skills Academy, we’re fully aware of those needs and have been open to different work setups: Contractors, Freelancers, Volunteers, Interns, Part-timers, etc. This includes the flexibility of the team member to change fluidly in between work setups as their life is shifting (moving locations, becoming a new mom, etc).

One of the key takeaways from the book, which resonated with me, is the idea of breaking down traditional jobs into tasks. This approach aligns well with my personal experiences that there are no fixed jobs (or roles), but a series of tasks in the organization that need to be accomplished.

I’m inspired to list down all the tasks needed in an organization, so it becomes easier to match individuals with the specific skillset required for each task. This way, individuals can fluidly move across different departments based on the tasks at hand rather than being confined to fixed job roles.

To start deconstructing jobs into tasks, we need to focus on the tasks that are improving performance and actually create values for an organization. The authors introduced the concept of ‘Return on Improved Performance (ROIP)’ for the tasks. There are 4 types of ROIP in tasks:
1. Reduce mistakes
2. Reduce variance
3. Incrementally improve value
4. Exponentially improve value

So it would be great if, for each task, we also described ROIP, which refers to the value created through higher performance. Some examples from Remote Skills Academy’s tasks:
1. Customer Success task in sending a confirmation message to Students after enrolling in a course. The ROIP is to reduce variance, doing the task the same way every time and potentially including technology to help with the automation
2. SEO writing for blog posts at the website. The ROIP is to incrementally improve value in sending organic traffic to our website.

The book also advocates for a project-based approach. I’m inspired to ask each team member about their project for the quarter and use it as their personal OKR (Objectives and Key Results), which could be a game changer for the exponential growth that we’re looking for. It promotes a sense of ownership and aligns individual efforts with organizational goals. This also ties nicely with matching people with project opportunities that align with their skill sets. It’s about looking at workers as a “Whole Person” with deconstructed capabilities (e.g. skills).

Moreover, the concept of hiring individuals for their unique skill sets and helping them grow resonated with me. It’s about hiring people we love and helping them carve a career pathway for themselves within the organization (or even outside of the organization). This personal touch in talent management, as proposed in the book, can build a sense of satisfaction and loyalty for the team members.

Unilever’s Framework for the Future of Work

The book is very rich and I can only give you surface-level insights on what resonates with me. For the rest, you need to read it yourself. Get “Work without Jobs”. It’s a straightforward yet insightful read for anyone looking to understand and adapt to the new work paradigm and also step-by-step on how to get there.

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Lia Golledge

Founder Coach. Fractional CMO Remote Skills Academy. Co-Managing Director Girls in Tech Indonesia. Author of 33 books.