Getting from A to B: The Work Project 2.0

At the start of 2015, like others I know I decided that this year would be about making ideas a reality. It’s the year of doing.

The Work Project has reached the point where it has to iterate. It needs to be turned up to eleven. There are some major changes coming, sparked by my thoughts a few weeks ago and it’s time to share them…

This experiment set out with two aims:

  1. Find an alternative way to make a living, outside the usual structures of work (i.e. a job).

    Someone told me that ‘most people hate their jobs.’ I wanted to experiment with ways to make a living so that people who do hate their jobs can see they have an alternative.

  2. Give everyone an opportunity to rethink their relationship with work.

    We’re taught in school what a career path should look like and once we find the security of a pay packet, many of us don’t think twice about it. I wanted to play with work in a way that could help people think about it in a completely different way.

The aims seem to have a widespread resonance. Although a couple of years old now, Gallup’s Employee Engagement statistics showed that 87% of global employees feel disengaged with their work. It’s a sad scenario that says a lot about both the resigned misery in which many workers live and the potential benefits in productivity and participation their employers are missing out on.

Effectively, The Work Project is about taking control of your relationship with work, whatever level of traditional career you’re at. It worked for me and I now feel in a position to share the useful insight I’ve gained, but I’m not sure that’s enough.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started feeling that the tips I’m providing and reach I have isn’t enough to make an impact on the issues I’ve discovered. I’ve been thinking about the aims of The Work Project and how to manifest the project in a way that offers something greater, more useful and more universal.

Whatever happens, The Work Project will always be about those two aims. Right now though, I feel that in its original guise, I’ve taken it as far as it can go. It’s all been based on me and my search for insight… it’s time to make it into something detached from me that can benefit anyone and everyone.

I’ve created an action plan for the future of The Work Project.

Step 1: The Closure Project.

I mentioned this recently. I see a great way to bring the original project full circle and create a unique piece of work that offers a unique

I’m going to write about it in its own right imminently, but for now here’s an overview:

Creating a digital-physical crossover piece of art that allows a wide audience a reframed view of ‘work’ and represents the evolution of work from analogue to digital. The culmination of a year spent experimenting personally, socially and artistically across written and visual mediums with The Work Project. Interviewing the individual who inspired the original project (and the character Production Manager John), then breaking it into samples and composing a piece of music around it. Producing a limited edition 7” vinyl with gatefold sleeve and accompanying booklet featuring commissioned concept photography and written explorations. Accompanying extended digital download content.

I’ve just submitted an application to The Arts Council for half of the funding we need (I lifted the above description directly from the application). If successful with that, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign to get the project into orbit. I use the word ‘we’ as I’m really excited to be working with some very talented (and award winning!) artists who I last worked with a decade ago.

A lot more on this to follow!


Step 2: The Work Project Not for Profit.

The Closure Project will also be the platform to launch a new vision for The Work Project. I’d like to create a not for profit organisation that delivers the project’s aims through two areas:

  • Commissioning and supporting creative projects that challenge and inspire people to reframe their view of ‘work’.
    Much of The Work Project to date has been about small creative projects. #6WordWork to What is Work, the spoken word version of John and more, have contributed to the project’s value as much as any of the more methodical exploration. There’s a definite value in creating alternative perspectives on work and developing ideas that encourage everyone to think about their own relationship in a different way.
  • Delivering free and universally accessible employability education and support.
    This will come via a technology platform, content development, online courses, support and commercialised sister ventures that generate revenue to be reinvested in further developing The Work Project. This is based on the belief that everyone should have access to the tools they need to go out and get the right work.

It’s essential that none of this depends upon me. The original project was an experiment with me as the subject and while I want to be involved here, I don’t want to be a figurehead or ‘in charge’ – I just want to start the ball rolling. I’d like this to be independent of any one person. That’s why I intend to create a manifesto for The Work Project and then build an advisory board of 10 individuals who bring relevant knowledge to guide it:

  • Business
  • Marketing/ PR
  • Creative/ Artistic
  • Tech
  • Education/ Training/ Learning
  • Content
  • Not for Profit
  • Founder
  • Worker Perspective
  • Alternative Perspective

The idea is that all of this is built and operated out loud – complete transparency on all matters from financial to operation. Everything in the public domain.

With that in mind, I’ll need to build an initial team who as people bring the balance of understanding and capability along these lines:

  • Admin/ Office Management
  • Social Media
  • PR/ Marketing
  • Business Development/ Sponsorship/ Fundraising
  • Tech Platform Development

These won’t necessarily be directly employed people – the essential part is that this is a team. We’ll look at the options as we go and build appropriately.

To achieve this, we’ll need to raise £100k+ before we can even get this off the ground – to cover building the tech platform and operating for the first year. The more we can raise, the more impact we can create.

Funding will come primarily from corporate sponsorship and donations, with applications for government and lottery funding providing secondary income to support our work. Then, once we’re running, the project’s own revenue streams will contribute and it will transition to self-funding.

I have no idea how long it will take to make all of this a reality, just that it feels like the right direction to take. I’ll write much more on this plan over the coming months as it develops and I’m completely open to comment and conversation along the way.

Right now though, the main focus is on The Closure Project and –hopefully- being ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign in late October!

There will be a few changes to the website coming soon to reflect all this. The We Are the Work Project newsletter will contain the latest updates, all of which will be published at

The Work Project now has its own dedicated Twitter account (@The_WorkProject), where everything will be shared too. Please follow!


I Need Your Help!

If you’ve been kind enough to read this far, please now take one minute to help The Work Project by doing these few things:

  • Share the article as far and wide as you can on social media.
  • Follow The Work Project on Twitter and encourage many others to do the same.
  • Sign up to We Are The Work Project to stay in the loop without having your inbox spammed to death.

Thanks for your support. People will make this possible…

Watch this space!