The future of work: A designer’s reading list

Recently, I was asked to put together a list of reading for design students. These students are about to design something for emerging productivity needs. I looked through my academic database, I realized that much of what I’ve read is probably not appropriate for designers.

I mean, show me a designer who wants to read Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and I’ll show you a budding sociologist!

So I changed tack. Below is the rough, popular reading list I came up with. These articles are no substitute for a robust reading of the research on work and technology, but it does reflect some of the major debates in the field.

It also is ripe for design solutions. There is tension. There are problems to solve. What problems would you solve, if you were designing for the future of work?

Understanding work in the 20th century: from hierarchy to what?

Stewart, Matthew. 2006. “The Management Myth: Most of management theory is inane, writes our correspondent, the founder of a consulting firm. If you want to success in business, don’t get an MBA. Study philosophy instead.” The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/06/the-management-myth/304883/

Work and technology: overworked and underproductive

Bogost, Ian. 2013. “Hyperemployment, or the exhausting work of the technology user.” The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/11/hyperemployment-or-the-exhausting-work-of-the-technology-user/281149/

Madden, Mary, and Sydney Jones. 2008. “Networked Workers”. Pew Internet and American Life: Washington DC. http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/09/24/networked-workers/

Work and Home: blurring the boundaries

Meece, Mickey. “Who’s the boss? You or your gadget?” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/business/06limits.html?pagewanted=all

Duxbury, Linda, and Rob Smart. 2011. “The ‘Myth of Separate Worlds’: An Exploration of How Mobile Technology Has Redefined Work-Life Balance.” In Creating Balance? International Perspectives on the Work-Life Integration of Professionals, edited by Stephan Kaiser, Max Josef Ringlstetter, Doris Ruth Eikhof, and Miguel Pina e Cunha, 269–284. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

The Aging Workforce: time bomb or blessing?

Thompson, Derek. 2012. “Gray Nation: The very real economic dangers of an aging America.” The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/gray-nation-the-very-real-economic-dangers-of-an-aging-america/254937/

The End of The Job: what happens when no one has a job?

Wishnia, Steve. 2012. “Temp Worker Nation: If you do get hired, it might not be for long.” Alternet. http://www.alternet.org/labor/temp-worker-nation-if-you-do-get-hired-it-might-not-be-long

The Economist. 2014. “The Onrushing Wave.” http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less

MBO Partners. 2011. “The State of Independence in America”. Herndon, Virginia. http://www.mbopartners.com/state-of-independence/independent-workforce-index.html