The Worker Canvas

February 9, 2024

Matt Wu

Why do so many product roadmaps end up as a jumbled assortment of individual features, lacking in cohesion and purpose? From my experience, it stems from a focus on short-term objectives and anecdotal customer feedback. Imagine trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle without the box cover; there’s persistent effort, but the process is riddled with inefficiencies and frequent detours.

As product builders, we are inundated with methods, frameworks, and quick fixes, all claiming to be the silver bullet for cohesive product development. But the reality is that no podcast or surface-level definition of “customer centricity” will deliver shortcut answers. After a decade of engaging directly with enterprise customers, what stands out to me is this: clarity of purpose is derived from extensive time living the life of your customers.

At Onboarded, we've gone beyond “customer centricity” by truly immersing ourselves in the daily lives of our customers. And more than that, the lives of workers they interact with — from temp jobs to ridesharing — we seek to understand the intricacies of modern employment. Certainly sitting alongside recruiters and experiencing their challenges first-hand, but also scouring job boards and applying for work as bartenders or event staff ourselves. And from this, one feeling really stands out: frustration. Filling out job applications is daunting and painfully repetitive, and every onboarding process feels like you’re starting from scratch.

Enter the "Worker Canvas" – our living masterpiece that paints the unique portrait of a worker's skills, aptitudes and professional life. We see a worker’s career as a continually evolving canvas where each role, certification, and personal detail adds new layers, textures, and depth. This canvas is not just a record of one's professional journey; it's also a tool for effortless data sharing. A worker should bring their canvas to a new role, instantly share their story, and immediately begin adding new details to the cumulative profile within the canvas.

The "Worker Canvas" is our missing reference image, adding context to every piece of the product jigsaw puzzle. It serves as our constant reminder that starting a new job or switching roles shouldn't feel like starting from scratch. If we aspire to pivot the HR industry from an employer-focused framework to one that truly empowers the worker, then organizing and prioritizing roadmaps starts with a simple question: How does this enrich the Worker Canvas?

Our first step in realizing this vision? We begin with onboarding—the opening brushstroke on a worker's canvas, establishing the groundwork for every subsequent layer, texture, and detail.