Anna, before we get started, can you tell us what your profession is?
I’m a partner at Plein Sens, a research and consulting firm that focuses on work, what it produces and those who do it. My approach as a consultant aims at articulating the individual-collective-organization(s), what constitutes systems, and the balance to find or get back to regarding what transforms us and our work.
1. Why will the future of work be different than what we have today?
Simply because it remains to be invented. It’s neither continuous progress, nor a clean break, but rather a change of consciousness, first individually and then as groups. It’s possible to take action today that aligns with our convictions, no matter what those are.
There’s a shared willingness to not just be subjected to it, but to act, each of us according to our level and our means, and it’s a willingness we see more and more in the professional world.
I’m thinking in particular of all the requests we receive from our clients to “get our employees on board,” “work on employee engagement,” about methods of co-conception or co-design… all of which certainly seem trendy, but are more than just that!
The “people who work” are more than just workers. We all want our work to be useful, for ourselves as individuals, but also collectively, for our company, our clients, and our society.
2. What would you like for the future of work to be based on, or not based on?
I can’t speak for everyone, only what I see in companies and what seems crucial to me for the world of work, which is the question of freedom: freedom of choice, freedom of actions, of decisions… in the limits of the constraints of the job.
Freedom within a framework is the definition of responsibility (the making aware of responsibility, some call it).
That means understanding the environment in which we take action: our entity, what it produces, its economic model, how to construct performance, the interactions with other entities or clients, the impacts of dysfunction (not just that of others, but yours as well…).
That requires “enlightening”: companies need to explain, show, make available ; individuals need to be curious, and to make an effort to understand and live in a larger collective. It’s mutually beneficial!
I would like our future of work to be built around treating people as responsible individuals, capable of understanding, reflecting and taking action at their own levels.
3. How can we invent a desirable future of work?
By making it ourselves! And by negotiating for it in our collectives.
By asking ourselves questions about what kind of relationships to work we want to have, about the interdependence we’re willing to accept, about ways to talk, to share ideas and ways of doing things… and by starting by changing ourselves before imposing anything on other people.
And all of that is easier when we work together!