Curating an immersive experience to explore the futures of work
Following a growing partnership, Nesta invited Ouishare to be a Content Partner for FutureFest 2018 to "occupy the future" and offer radical alternative visions. We were asked to bring our unique participatory and innovative approach to event design. The result was an immersive five session program exploring The Future.s of Work like never before.
Why The Future.s of Work?
Since its creation, Ouishare has been an ongoing laboratory of new models of work. We challenge old hierarchy paradigms; we continuously question what work should be and mean, and help organisations transform themselves. Therefore it felt natural to both Nesta and us to focus on this topic and explore it through a different approach and format.
When confronted to the rising popularity of ‘The Future of Work’ literature, we realised that there isn’t just one final prediction of what work will be; but a series of possibilities, some contradictory, some unexpected. This is why we decided to explore some of those scenarios, to test what would it feel to be there, to be confronted with such radical changes so we can react in the present accordingly.
A new perspective to an old concern
Until now, the so-called future of work debate relied mainly on trying to answer these four questions: What type of jobs will we have? What type of skills will we need? What kind of workplaces there will be? Moreover, what will happen to remuneration? However, we realised that thinking about work through only the perspective of technology and employment was limited. We wanted to take this opportunity to address the missing question, one that we feel is at the core of the debate: What will be the social norms and values around work?
Through our sessions, we wanted to fundamentally question the meaning and value of work when the social conditions around it radically change. We tried to shift the debate, so instead of asking our audience, Will machines replace us? Should robots pay income tax? We asked What will work mean when half the population doesn't have a job? What challenges will arise if Universal Basic Income is implemented?
In our imagined scenarios, we took as given some technological and social advancements that have pushed society towards new paradigms to question then the forces and values that brought us there and explore the outcomes, desired or not.
Fun and immersive experience to challenge traditional conference formats
Tired of traditional keynote presentations and panel discussions, we decided to shake things up a bit. The programme consisted of five sessions set in near futures, starting in 2030 and finishing in 2023, all alternative scenarios exploring a different issue around the future of work.
Each session was a different role-playing experience for both the speakers and the audience. From a collective job interview for a new Chief Happiness Officer to a Town Hall Meeting discussing Universal Basic Income, we wanted to encourage our participants to think and engage with the issues at a more personal level.
Below you can find out more about our alternative futures sessions:
2030: When climate change disrupted work
Speaker: Cacau Araújo, Naresh Giangrande, Moderated by Manel Heredero
2029: When happiness comes before profit
Speakers: Julio Salazar, Susan Basterfield | Moderated by Francesca Pick
2027: When the post-work era begins
Speakers: Kyle Lewis, Nina Power, Kristoffer Rasmussen| Moderated by Francesca Pick
2025: When women left the workforce
Speakers: Nina Power, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox | Moderated by Manel Heredero
2023: When work no longer defines us
Speakers: Laëtitia Vitaud, Pablo de Orellana | Moderated by Vincent Edin
The power of empowering speakers
Committed to participatory formats and collaborative practices, including the speakers in the design of each session was crucial. Contrary to panel discussions where the speakers have never met before, each session felt smooth, with a clear line of dialogue leading to deeper connections and analysis. As described by Julio Salazar’s testimony:
"As a speaker, I had a wonderful experience participating in this festival. From the onset, I was challenged by the Ouishare team to go beyond the typical speaker format and think of a bold future in 2029 where happiness takes on higher value and meaning in the workplace, almost like an additional currency for organisations. We felt the buzz of excitement for the topic from the moment the audience sat down, as well as their solidarity in resisting the tropical climate conditions of the packed room. After the session, many people came up to congratulate us on an inspiring conversation.
I’m delighted to have connected with Susan and Francesca (moderator and fellow speaker). We had a wonderful dynamic that continues into collaborations sparked from our time together. We will continue to push forward the proposed policies from the panel into the day-to-day of our organisations. Fernanda was crucial to our panel’s success; she is a bright mind and encouraging demeanour."
It's better when we work together.
Our participation at the FutureFest would not have been possible without the collaboration with Nesta and the support of the BMW Foundation.
Thanks to the incredible resources and contacts provided by the BMW Foundation, we were able to invite two members of the Responsible Leaders Network from Latin America, one of our key priorities. Their participation brought enormous value to the debate and led to new project opportunities.
As an international community and network, we are always committed to having a diversity of opinions and perspectives. Nesta congratulated us for expanding the scope of speakers, ensuring gender equality across all of our panels and our commitment to participatory formats.
"I'm incredibly grateful for your dedication, professionalism and your relentless enthusiasm about the participatory format empowering both your speakers and the FutureFest audience. I owe you a huge thank you for being the bridge between two very different organisational cultures - only those with a powerful vision can be that force!"
Petra Perjesi, Producer of FutureFest
Recap: The key ingredients to experience the edges
When designing a Ouishare-powered event, three key ingredients make the experience truly unique and disruptive. The way we approach content, the commitment to experiment new formats and making sure both our audience and speakers feel involved and participate.
Curating the Explore Stage of the FutureFest 2018 in London was yet another excellent opportunity to share the way Ouishare explores the edges.