Future Work. How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive In The New World of Work

Alison Maitland & Peter Thomson

Published by

Palgrave Macmillan





Reviewed by

Charles Chang FBCS CITP


6 out of 10

Disappointingly, this book scores 6 out of 10 for me. This bothers me as both authors come with terrific credentials. Alison Maitland is a writer, speaker, conference moderator specialising in leadership, gender and work; and she has been on the faculty of CASS. Peter Thomson is acknowledged authority on the changing nature of work and its impact on organisational culture and management practices; and he has been visiting fellow at Henley.

What also concerns me is that maybe I’ve missed something. After all, there are seven eminent people who have praised it (just before the title page). They vary from professors to consultants, but looking at their affiliations or credentials, they all work in the area of ‘future work’!

The book sets out to advocate that it is time for ‘future work’ and then proceeds to explain why and how to achieve it. Sadly, I am not completely convinced. This is partly because, I think, the authors have confused future of work with future use of office space. Nothing in their book shows me how the nature of work is changing, only that work will not necessarily be carried out in offices or between 9 and 5. But we have known that a long time

The other aspect of the book that I am not satisfied with is the slightly illogical substructure. The chapter titles read fine and logical. But when you go to the sections of some of the earlier chapters, not all sections support the chapter heading. For example, the introductory chapter is entitled: Time for change.  But at least two sections: Leadership 2.0 and Under new management actually seem to say ‘time is not yet ripe for change’.

Similarly, the chapter called Turning convention on its head contains several sections that don’t have much to do with turning anything on its head, such as Trouble with flexible working, or Putting theory into practice.

However, if one is convinced that there is merit in future work, then the later chapters do a good job of helping you to put it into practice, especially with the acronym TRUST: Trust your people, Reward output, Understand business case, Start at top, Treat people as individuals.

So, in summary, if you want to read this to convince yourself that there is a case for change, I suggest you look elsewhere. But if you are already convinced and want to know how, this book might be of use to you.

Further information: Palgrave Macmillan

February 2012