Ingrid, before we get started, can you tell us what your profession is?
My job is “Exploration Curator.” I bet you’re wondering what that means!
At thecamp, it means building a multi-actor program around a part of society that we think is a priority: work. Just like an exhibition curator chooses the works to exhibit and designs the staging, I work with our partners to co-construct the angle we want to focus on and the goals we set ourselves, and the methods and the ecosystem we need in order to get there. The goal is to create paths for transformation and innovation that allow operational teams to invent new work practices that work for them.
1. Why will the future of work be different than what we have today?
Human and organizational transformation happens over the long-term, and we have already been seeing new ways of working emerge over the past several years. More autonomy for teams, extended working collectives, the resurgence of the question of purpose. Technology is certainly a major factor in this phenomenon, but there are others, too. Economic pressure and environmental devastation are both speeding up current evolutions. Nowadays, a week never goes by without a new initiative about the future of work being launched…
2. What worries you, when people talk about the future of work?
First of all, the initiatives that aim to adapt to trends (artificial intelligence, for example, but also collaborative work) without trying to interrogate them and get some perspective. As though our room for maneuvering is limited to a future that we have no control over.
Secondly, the overarching stories about the future of work that can be completely paralyzing. Why bother to think about this topic when we’ll all soon be replaced by robots?
These two elements have the same pitfall: we talk a lot about the future of work, but never about a desirable future of work. At thecamp, we believe that we don’t need to anticipate the future of work, we need to invent it, and we need to do that while including employees, teams, everyone who is grappling with actual work.
3. How can we invent a desirable future of work?
The first step is to set aside time, and to create spaces for dialog and discussions about the topic. There isn’t one future of work, or one desirable future of work. The only futures that will exist are the ones that teams want to create for themselves. To do that, these teams need to talk about it together and be confronted with different cultures, practices, habits. That’s why we decided to offer a multi-actor program about work, that gives participants from teams and companies who don’t know each other a chance to compare their points of view and experiences.
The second path forward is to learn about the means we have to build alternatives to the overarching stories about the future in which we’re evolving. A tool to get there is mobilizing our imaginations. Today, there are techniques that use art and fiction to open new perspectives, propose new scenarios for the future and help us identify new ways to take action. The participants in the Future(s) of Work Exploration will use these techniques in their workshops at thecamp, whose physical space plays a central role in getting out of our usual ways of thinking!
And finally, we have to prototype, to attempt, to test! And to remind ourselves of real utopias that already exist! The future awaiting us is not unequivocal, we need to multiply our attempts, our iterations so that everyone, in his or her own way, can construct their desirable future in a concrete way.