Confronting COVID-19 Q&A Series: Ravin Jesuthasan, Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson is a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company. Futurist, author, and Willis Towers Watson Managing Director Ravin Jesuthasan shares how to reinvent jobs for resiliency in the face of a crisis, and provides insight into his company’s research on the pandemic’s disruption of work.

This Q&A is a part of an ongoing series of DRC interviews with representatives from our member organizations.

Q: How has the COVID-19 global pandemic changed work?

Ravin Jesuthasan, Managing Director

A: The pandemic has accelerated the future of work exponentially. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that it has resulted in two years of digital transformation being realized in just two months. The impact on the future of work is far more profound as it is affected by not just digitalization and automation, it is also driven by the democratization of work; our ability to decouple work from the confines of the organization and distribute it anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. Our research shows that more than 50% of companies are planning on the deployment of work and talent beyond their legacy jobs, more than 57% have virtualized where work is done, and 48% plan to introduce more automation. All of these trends point to a post-pandemic economy that will look dramatically different from the one pre-pandemic. The post-pandemic organization will need to be much more resilient, flexible, and agile than its pre-pandemic peers as it looks to withstand future shocks and capture emerging opportunities.

Q: Why is job reinvention important so essential for companies given these trends?

A: We know from years of research that companies only get to the optimal outcomes, whether that means introducing automation or redeploying work to remote locations, when they think beyond the job. This means deconstructing jobs into component tasks, identifying the optimal “what/who, when, and how” of those tasks, and then reconstructing new and fundamentally different roles based on the optimal combination of work options available, including AI, robotics, gig talent, remote work, etc.

Q: What are some of the benefits and implications of job reinvention?

A: The implications of job reinvention are a clear sense of which skills are being rendered obsolete, changing as a result of new ways of working or automation, and the new skills being demanded. Some of the benefits include more sustainable combinations of talent and technology, and more inclusive cultures as companies are better able to match skills to work in more objective ways.