Nurturing occupational communities to overcome the limitations of job hyperflexibility in tech and creative industries

Labora is a research and engagement project working with creative practitioners to identify and overcome the limitations of job hyperflexibility in tech and creative industries.

The project started as part of my PhD research. Over the past 24 months I have studied the problem of job casualization from a theoretical standpoint. In this period I had the chance to talk to freelancers, solopreneur, aspiring startuppers and fixed term workers struggling with the issue of job insecurity. Observing the various social events and gatherings organized by local group of tech creatives, I studied how these social gatherings are actually overcoming some of the limits that flexible workers face.

On the basis of my observations, through Labora I aim to investigate and test the possibility of co-designing an open format for the constitution of “Occupational Communities”. Occupational communities are defined as informal gatherings connecting workers with similar competences and professional interests. Blending elements of leisure and work, occupational communities were, in industrial capitalism, an effective means for nurturing collaboration and mutual support amongs specialized workers.

Transposing the concept of occupational community from industrial to the digital economy, Labora investigates whether these gatherings can improve independent workers’ employability by providing them peer-to-peer training and opportunities for collaboration. Alongside training opportunities, occupational Communities will pool resources for members to share (e.g. accounting, legal, office space). Governance, agreements, budgeting and guidelines will be co-designed with members and released in the open to foster local replication.

Why joining the Mozilla Open Leader culture track?

I heard about OL7 during an interview with a web developer. I heard about it at a moment when I was struggling to see the “applicability” of my research project. Driven by the idea of doing more than just enact the research standard practice or “returning the results” to the studied communities, I thought of initiating a process for the construction of something tangible which will, hopefully, benefit the population I studied.

Key accomplishments

I have developed a dissemination and awareness strategy which addresses the different stakeholders as identified through the Mountain of Engagement exercise.

The basis of this strategy is a newsletter through which enroll and inform the general audience about the problems of labour hyper flexibilization.

I also started publishing short reports and key findings in bite-sized format on the Project’s blog

Lastly, I am in the process of releasing the software developed to retrieve Meetup data into the public.

Key understandings

I need to start somewhere. I was in a situation where my felt need to involve my community blocked me from taking any action.

As a consequence, I never had anything to share with others as a way to find supporters and collaborators. Now that I have a clearer vision for the project I can more easily communicate it and enroll others.

At the same time, nothing prevents to change and collectively revise the vision and the mission of the project in the future.

Next Steps

  • Present Labora to different stakeholders using different means of dissemination: presentations, publiations, reports, blog posts and newsletters.
  • Host an event in collaboration with a local Vancouver organization about social innovation
  • Onboard early-contributors with whom start drafting the format and the guidelines
  • Improve the sofware used to retrieve Meetup data and release it for public use.

Stay in touch!

You can follow the updates on this website. The Blog section is where I am going to publish the latest updates. Moreover, you can participate on Gitub. join my newsletter about technology and the future of work or contact me on Twitter.

Would you like to join the project?

Bonus Track: Labora's soundtrack

As a ritual during my bi-weekly calls with my mentor, I used to share a song. The song was meant to reflect my feelings in respect to the project. Now, 14 weeks later, I can share with you my Mozilla Open Leader soundtrack:

All pictures used in this page were taken by Alberto Lusoli and are released to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The Mozilla header image was taken from Wikimedia. Source.

The footstep icon used in the Next Steps section was taken from Wikimedia. Source