Do You Work Remotely or Nearby?

The First NFTs in HR, My Four-Day Week, and I'll Be Your Mirror

Hi, I’m Andy Spence and this is the Workforce Futurist Newsletter about the rapidly changing world of work. Please subscribe if you don’t already for regular posts (this is #6) and longer essays direct to your inbox every week.

Thanks to all the new subscribers – especially Veronica, Ruchi, and Datise!

In this article, a riff on the weird language of work, my four-day week, an exclusive on the World’s 1st NFT for HR, thoughts on fairer decentralised projects, and an opportunity to contribute to the future of HR.

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Do You Work Remotely or Nearby?

Is it social distancing or physical distancing?

We try to remain close socially with our friends and family, yet need to maintain a physical distance from people in the supermarket queue.

Words matter.

The language of work fascinates me. 

Like many people, I work in my home.  

This is called remote working, but it doesn’t feel remote to me at all.  I’m working nearby everything that matters.

'Remote-work' is an employer-centric term.

It refers to an employer’s perspective – ‘my workers are not in the office, therefore they are distributed or remote.’

The term remote-work has been thrown into the marketing sausage machine, minced-up and is now used to sell products.

The language of work needs to reflect a more worker-centric age.

My Four-Day Week

I’m trying a new working pattern at the moment – 4 days on and 1 day off. 

My work is mostly writing projects, client calls, and media stuff.  Every few days I need a total day-off with no work, PC, calls, or news - but don’t seem to need two days off.  I’m lucky I can adjust my working patterns because I have a wonderful and benevolent boss 😉

There appears to be a movement towards the Four-Day Week.

I’m passionate about rethinking work, for individuals and organisations - but wary of prescriptive models.

A Four-Day Week seems just a constraining as well the Five-Day Week

If you design an organisation from scratch and end up with a four-day week that balances workforce and business needs, then great. It’s also possible you might come up with the Four-Hour Week or working 5 to 9 with Dolly’s entrepreneurs.

The best advice is to start from 1st principles and do your own research.

What works for me might not work for you! 

The First NFT in HR

In my last article, I asked what can we learn from the crypto creators using blockchain technology?

My pioneering friend Trish Uhl has created the first NFT just for HR!

The CryptoOwls are the first NFT collection in history created to CELEBRATE people in the workforce! This #CryptoArt hands-on experience connects HR, L&D, OD and Talent professionals around the world with a memorable experience by which to interact with and learn from digital art, blockchain and metadata as we transform to digital world.

A fixed set of 12, with an homage to the CryptoPunks phenomenon, these CryptoOwls are inspired by this year's theme Unlocking YOUR Potential and are launched in parallel with Hacking HR 2021 Global Online Conference.

You can make an offer for a #CryptoOwl on OpenSea here. 

Illustrating how this new technology works to a broader community can help with knowledge, understanding, and maybe some innovation in the tokenisation of work.

I’ll Be Your Mirror

I described Mirror - the community-owned publishing platform last week.

The founders’ ambition is to grow Mirror on a monumental scale. With experiments like this the early path is hard to predict, in their words,

So what’s gonna happen? We have no idea, and we wouldn’t have it any other way…..we hope it’s inspiring.

After 3 rounds the early winners include some talented writers. 

A quick scan of the 30 winners on twitter and it seems there were only 5 women, and a disproportionately high number of investors. 

The broader communities building decentralised solutions are diverse cognitively, and politically. There are ambitious initiatives with goals to revolutionise democracy, supply chains, money, banking, publishing, art, music, and work.

These goals are going to be even more challenging if the main players in development are a mirror image of the existing centralised, male, and corporate-owned power structures.

This issue of economic equity is complex, and diversity and fairness issues are not exclusive to blockchain projects. However, given the goals, it is worth thinking as hard about inclusion as the underlying technology.

There are no grand solutions today, but let’s try and Cast the Net Widely folks...

I found this article a thoughtful consideration of Ownership in CryptoNetworks.

The next Mirror voting round starts on Wednesday at 3pm ET. 

Get voting and get writing!

The Future of HR

This article on the boss who has no HR department caused a stir for obvious reasons. Turns out the company does have plenty of HR expertise on hand, but not in a silo.  It raises some interesting questions about the future of central corporate departments.

People management has always been driven by external forces to HR, from labour market supply and demand to new organisation structures.  We are moving from an industrial mindset of treating workers as a resource to be managed, to enabling self-organised teams.

I will be sharing my views on the future of HR in an upcoming thought-piece to be published here.

If you know anyone in your network who might enjoy this newsletter then please share.


I contributed to a lively Twitter session of #MercerChats with really good questions to ponder on talent trends for 2021.

It was great to hear from leaders in Argentina, USA, and Brazil, and companies including SurveyMonkey and Pitney Bowes on a panel I sat on ‘HR’s Role in Defining the Future of Work’ 

As part of my work as a member of the ‘Future of the HR Function’ Advisory Board for - we are casting the net widely and need YOUR input,

so please TAKE THIS SURVEY ON THE FUTURE OF HR before March 31st, and you will get a complimentary copy of the final research report.

Scribe Spotlight

I recommend checking out the ‘Future of Belonging’ by Vanessa Mason who writes on how we can redesign and reimagine well-being and belonging across business, social, and civic spheres. My particular interest is around the concept of belonging in work ecosystems.

Recommended reading from Vanessa would include Cultivating Belonging at Work

Worker of the Week – Meet Barry

No, it’s not my mate Barry, this is the Virtual Reality Barry…

Barry was created to provide Virtual Reality workplace training for HR and managers,

his sole purpose in life is to listen patiently, and then protest or sob a little as you fire him from an imaginary job in virtual reality.

Keep in touch and do share this with anyone who might enjoy it.