A Four Letter Word Ending In K

... Work - I'm talking about work!

John Philpin

Last week I wrote that The Future of Work is not The Gig Economy. No surprise really, but sometimes it has to be said. The breathless commentaries that get written and reported on by futurists and commentators alike leave you… well... ‘breathless’ and with little time to think about what is being said.

This week, one step further and a precursor to the bigger picture.

Following last week’s post, I had a brief exchange with my erstwhile colleague John Maloney who wrote;

What's more relevant is "The Future of Income."

Yes. ‘Work’ is actually ‘Income 1.0’.

Question. Why do people work?

  • It doesn’t (well shouldn’t) define you.

  • The harder you work doesn’t necessarily result in more income.

  • Work is rarely fulfilling.

  • Work is hardly ever what you would really want to do.

  • Real wealth is not created by working.

So why do we cling to the need to work? Why do we hang on to the notion of a ‘solid work ethic’ being essential for our ‘better well-being’ and why do we think it satiates our ‘desire and need’ to be ‘contributing to society’.

Paraphrasing Kathi Weeks in The Problem with Work.

“Overall the problem with work is that we have come to see work as inherently a social and political good.”

My problem with most ‘Future of Work’ narratives is that these myths are extended and their importance to ‘society’ and ‘civilization’ amplified. Platitudes such as ‘don’t worry, the jobs will be there' - just different jobs, are just that. Platitudes.

More importantly. People don’t even want jobs. They want to be fulfilled and generate income that at least covers their family’s cost of living.

Consider the advice.

  • You might not be able to drive a truck, but ‘the caring industry is growing at an unprecedented rate’.

  • Sure, cashiers jobs in fast food chains are disappearing - but ‘have you thought about learning to code’?

It’s akin to applying band-aids to a cancer patient.

‘The Future of Work’ is ... nothing. There is no ‘Future of Work’. And before you get all uppity - I am not suggesting that work is just going to disappear, of course not. But I am saying that the Future of Work has nothing to do with work as we know it today. So let us plan for massive disruption - not business as usual linear thinking and look at what Income 2.0 might look like.


Six Months have passed since the launch of this newsletter. I hope you enjoyed Issue Number 26. Many thanks for your continued support and attention. Please do like the post, share through your social channels of choice and forward the email to colleagues, friends and family that want to join us on this journey. I truly appreciate all of your support.