Work instability

The platformisation of employment

Automation and Climate Change will cause huge turmoil in economies. People may be working online, based on their chosen field or ‘gig’, and move in search of better economic environments, reputation will become ever more vital as people have to quickly and consistently reestablish themselves.  We will see more online platforms supporting offline gig workers’ skills.

How the scenario could unfold

In this scenario, we can speculate about the converging of multiple trends around remote working, adapting skills set and a new focus on wellbeing.

The rapid and constant flux in the world means that workforces need to adapt and evolve rapidly, putting an increased focus on people’s skills rather than their knowledge and potentially lead to the escalation of skills training within the workplace. Work could easily become intertwined with education making it a lifelong process of development and reinvention rather than a specific period in our lives. To facilitate this change, more inclusive, skills-based, education platforms like Udemy, Lynda, SkillShare and hundreds more may expand to challenge expensive, formal education systems.

At the same time, technology is also changing the workspace landscape l, by allowing out-of-office communication and remote working. The number of employees working flexibly in their own time and space may continue to increase because it is often seen as healthier, more inclusive and more productive.

In this scenario, work shifts from a career with a singularly defined role and a part of your identity, to an activity that your evolving skills set and attributes make you good at. It may realign wellbeing alongside work and make professions available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.  

We consider the significance of this context from the perspective of a future character we created based on our research with real people.

Find out how we ‘Learned from extreme users’.
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What might that mean for Wade?

For people like Wade, who value work based on the stability it brings them, we can explore how services may evolve that support that stability or challenge it further.

When things are out of my control, I have enough life experience to know it’s gonna’ be fine and push through.

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Self expansion

People have augmented capabilities that boost their productivity and skills and can become working machines that produce non-stop. For them the line of separation between work and home may fade and financial success could simply allow the purchase of more skills in order to earn more money in a dangerous cycle.


Blended Work-Home-Travel

The increased demand for workforces with flexible capacities alter the role of education as work and skills based training become intertwined. At the same time, geographic flexibility allows people to work remotely and we may see shifts in the relationship between people’s work-life, home-life and travel.

Wade has never had what he would call ‘a career’, only jobs. He never went to university, instead opting to pursue his passion for music. He was briefly professional, but always had to do other jobs as well. He still considers himself a musician, but does it more as a hobby than anything he would put on a business card. Instead, he works a range of odd jobs to get by. His friends, including his soon to be wife, are people he met while working in the local garden centre.

He is happiest when he is in control of his direction in life and when he has time to pause and be reflective. He believes no one else is in control but him and chooses to never rely on others unless it’s absolutely necessary. He doesn’t define himself by his career and instead looks for purpose in other things such as being a good friend, a good fiancée, and a good brother.

His goals

Wade’s goals are to find stability, so he does not have to scrape by each month.He wants to be more recognised for things he enjoys doing. Ultimately, he wants to find more meaning from his passions and relationships with the people around him.

For people like Wade, work is never permanent, it is  a means to get by and enjoy the smaller things in life.

Explorations in ‘Work instability’

We explore the future in this scene by looking for potential points of friction between this scenario of work instability and the needs of someone like Wade. These explorations are outlines of services that act as emerging spaces for solutions or spaces to explore the problems and provocations elicited by the services.

  • What beneficial elements of these services could be fostered? 
  • What is already happening in some way? 
  • What harm may these services do? 
  • What might prevent services such as these proliferating? 
  • What cultures may develop around a landscape of services such as this?


Prepare is an insurance service that assesses how vulnerable your current work and location is and helps you plan and take proactive decisions to prevent that. It provides an assessment of your skills, competencies and work situation, a simulation of future conditions related to your job role and preparation plans and suggestions on how to keep pace with future job conditions, as well as courses and training programmes to re-skill you for the future.

Team: The Lab

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Service visions


Colo is a personal assistant for self employed people who work at home by helping them find someone to work with who shares similar interests and lives nearby and by helping you build a working routine.
Find out how we ‘Conducted studio explorations’.
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Gig-off football league

Gig-off is a football league for gig-economy workers. The league is a tool to raise interest from workers of different platforms such as Uber, Lyft or Deliveroo to encourage them to become part of the Union for the Independent Workers of Great Britain(IWGB).

The league has been designed w to help gig-economy workers live healthily by offering environmental support. It is also a way for them to unite and build power, so they are more resilient for the changes they might face in the future.

Cristina Mogollón García
Jae Sun Park
Kiyohiro Izumo
Paulien van Rijckevorsel
Taeyeon Kim
Amogh Luxminarayanan

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Service visions

Digital Drugstore

Digital drug store is a store specialised in augmentation technologies that can be installed on or into humans. The range of options is ever expanding.
Find out how we ‘Crafted service concepts’.
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U-Path is an online service that aims to shift the mindset of learning to work, towards a mindset of working to learn.
It is a learning platform that helps employees build their career paths to match the changes in their profession according to the company’s goals. It provides trustworthy and reliable information about the future of their profession and skills needed to stay up to date.

Agata Juszkiewicz
HwangJoo Kim
Kin Man Cammy Sha
Pinja Piipponen
Shamim Bakhit

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Pyro has the best access to the latest and safest physical and mental augmentations on the market. As soon as these products and services are on the market, you can get them from us.



‘Dough’ is a digital peer to peer discovery app that helps young people better understand themselves and others in the work world, so they find the right jobs. Using short videos created by young professionals, it aims to inspire young people about the future possibilities of work by showing them relevant, stimulating and informative content, such as subtle details that a job description will not convey like the work environment or the team.

Alison Rosam
Donglin Kim

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Blended Work-Home-Travel

The increased demand for workforces with flexible capacities alter the role of education as work and skills based training become intertwined. At the same time, geographic flexibility allows people to work remotely and we may see shifts in the relationship between people’s work-life, home-life and travel.



Mirror helps young people find more fulfilling work lives by enabling personal development alongside their careers and involving lifestyle in job searches, unlike the many career networks that are solely career focused service.

Young people gain more agency in building a career that aligns with their interests and they can explore and learn new things without wasting time. Mirror also provides a service for employers, with benefits including access to real-time attitudes and behaviour data, adding valuable information for HR systems.

Octavia Coutts
Rhea Belani



Enlight is an online platform, which through a self-discovery game, a learning planner and a split public/private profile helps young people to make happier choices about their future, giving them a moment and a space for self-reflection.
By promoting self-awareness and the exploration of different experiences, it can improve the agency people have upon their career choices.

Francesca Schiboni Grimaldi
Yi Wu

Emerging topics

From these speculative explorations, we see three emerging trends.

Firstly, we see the potential for services that form new ways to bring people together who would otherwise be isolated and vulnerable. This may be unionising or other techniques to fill a void in workplace security that may emerge in the future and ensure that the rights of future workforces are not completely overlooked.

We also see an emergence of services that provide sophisticated matching of people and their job. As jobs become smaller, more nuanced or more modular, choosing between them in a way that gives the correct direction to an individual’s career may become more challenging, you will not know whether this job will move you into the next role with more pay, or the right experience or whether it will help support you and grow your skills in the way you need. It’s also harder than before for employers to fill these roles, so new ways of assessing skills and reputation become critical.

Making these decisions about career may be supported by services that first understand people better. They may learn someone’s characteristics, attributes and strengths in order to find careers that match correctly with their personality and preferred lifestyle choices, so that finding the right job is either a worthwhile experiment or a meaningful stepping stone.

These potential future services represent the evolution of new ways to protect workers and new ways to make the labour market work best for employers and for employees.

Related to ‘Work Instability’


Emotional money

AI could advance to levels that would allow sophisticated understanding of people’s emotions. If that information is coupled with financial behaviours or organisational objectives it could transform how value is assigned to our services and our experiences.

Dimensions of change


Work becomes fluid, remote, unstable and performative The possibilities and challenges for working life continue to grow.

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