The Workshift Commission


Demos is delighted to announce the appointment of the entrepreneur and writer Julia Hobsbawm to lead Workshift, a new programme exploring the future of work and workplaces. Launching in National Work Life Week (12-18 October), the Workshift commission will catalyse real change in the way we work and live.

Building on Demos’ Commission on Life After Covid-19, Renew Normal, Workshift will publish new research, convene leading thinkers and involve the public in defining a new model of work: one that enables growth in productivity, and the reduction of endemic harms in our present system, from toxic management to the imbalance between work and care.

Julia Hobsbawm will partner with Demos to lead the work. Julia is an established thought leader who put the concept of social health on the map, and has commented extensively on  the future of work, networks, social health and simplicity in a complex age. She is  Honorary Visiting Professor of Workplace Social Health at The Business School (formerly Cass Business School as well as running leading networks and media business Editorial Intelligence. Her latest book The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World is being published all over the world and has been hailed as a new model in management.

Commenting, Polly Mackenzie, Demos Chief Executive said: 

“I’m thrilled that Julia will be working with Demos to lead this essential conversation. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a generational shift in the patterns of millions of people’s working lives. And however long the pandemic lasts, it is already clear that we will not get back to the way things were – remote working has changed people’s minds about what’s possible and what’s desirable. 

“Julia and I believe that offers a unique moment of opportunity to remodel our working places, and with them our working lives. Workshift will help make that happen.”

Julia Hobsbawm commented:

“The future of work is shifting at enormous speed, and yet there’s a tremendous void in practical policy responses. The Workshift Commission will help to bring together innovators, experts and academics to help fill that void and start to provide some answers about future productivity and workplace wellbeing.

“Covid presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift the dial on the manifest problems around working life. These problems are both structural and systemic. And yet there is ample opportunity for a reframe and a reset. I’m a pessimistic optimist on this. Workshift will catalyse a conversation about the alternatives to toxic, unproductive workplaces and working practices. We will articulate, develop and showcase new models where delivery of work is hybrid, innovative, and operates on a far more responsive basis than would ever have been countenanced pre-Covid. Where productivity and wellbeing gains enable a double dividend: workers have more control of their lives, and contribute more at work.”