Ongoing Autonomy research streams:

A future fit for Wales: ensuring security, wellbeing and a brighter future of work

Status: ongoing

Researchers involved: Autonomy team, Howard Reed, David Frayne, Cleo Goodman (Basic Income Conversation), Guy Standing, Rob Calvert Jump

Length: 3 months


An unprecedented study of the effects of Basic Income and shorter working weeks in the Welsh context and its future prospects. The study will combine a fine-grained analysis of Wales with fleshed-out, fully-costed proposals for these two policies. In sum, the aim of the study will be to provide an off-the-shelf resource for the Commissioner in their project of futureproofing Wales according to key wellbeing and industrial indicators.


Autonomy’s data team, guided by our Basic Income economists, will produce an unprecedented study of the effects of a range of Basic Income models on Welsh society. Alongside this Basic Income work, Autonomy’s consultancy and research team will enact a study of a range of shorter working week scenarios across the Wales economy, estimating impacts and costs. This will lead to a set of informed policy proposals for the government. A set of guidelines for firm-level shorter working week trials will also be produced. Both sides of the project will be accompanied by different modes of engagement and collaborations with stakeholders, citizens and external partners.


Supported by: Future Generation Commissioner Wales

Work 2050

Status: ongoing

Researchers involved: whole team

Length: 1-3 years


A three-year, collaborative research, consultation and policy project to envisage and build towards the achievement of good work and good working lives across the next three decades.


Work as we know it stands at a crossroads, both in the short-term (Covid) and in the longer-term (e.g. ecological collapse). Other trends of automation, labour market polarisation and decline in worker voice are also set to worsen in the absence of significant intervention. Yet, facing these crises also represents an opportunity for significant change and a better future for workers.


Our advanced data research, analysis and policy proposals, combined with a thorough consultation process with a range of actors will provide the foundations for interventions that lead to a better world of work.


Supported by: Alex Ferry Foundation

Flex for the Worker

Status: ongoing

Researchers involved: Phil Jones

Length: 6 months


In many cases, flexibility can often mean greater power on the part of employers and greater precarity on the part of workers. And yet, flexibility in itself is perhaps not a bad thing – having more control over our working lives is after all an aspiration for many. The question that grounds this research project is: how can workers have security (financial, temporal, contractual) alongside the flexibility that characterises many employment contracts?


Supported by: CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership

The Shorter Working Week: beyond borders and industries

Status: ongoing

Researchers involved: Rob Jump, Will Stronge, Julian Siravo

Length: 12 months


As the discussion around a shorter working week gathers pace amongst social movements, economists and politicians, more robust data and analysis is required to inform the debate – beyond speculation and beyond international and historical comparisons. This project seeks to deploy a hypothetical scenario – a four-day week across industries and regions in the UK – in order to ‘stress test’ working time reductions as policy. With these data, robust sectoral and national policy proposals will be produced – moving the debate on by answering not just why shorting working hours are desirable, but how such a situation could be achieved concretely.


Supported by: the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

The Control of Workers & Worker Control

Status: ongoing

Researchers involved: Will Stronge, Julian Siravo

Length: 12 months


The Control of Workers: what is the present and future of technological tracking, evaluating and speed up in the modern British workplace? How do each of these functions get actualised, who controls them and what concrete effects do they have on workers?


We start with the working hypothesis that workplace technologies today involve the practices of tracking, evaluating or increasing (either speed or output). But how do each of these practices get embodied, who controls them and what concrete effects do they have on workers? This research will include work on data and intensification. How does the use of data changing the nature of workplace control, monitoring and then performance modification? We particularly want to explore the danger of technological ‘lock-in’, whereby forms of intensification effectively become (seemingly) immovable pieces of the industrial landscape. 



Worker control: What does worker control of technology – so often discussed, but rarely detailed – actually mean in practice? We will articulate both what control over the introduction of tech means and what the ongoing decision-making on the part of workers might look like. What international and historical examples can we draw on to develop viable policy, demands and regulation that increases the say that workers have over the deployment and use of technology in their working lives? Can data be resource for resistance as much as it is currently used for employer control?


Funded by: the Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Previous Autonomy projects:

The Future of Work in the Valencian Community

Status: completed Feb 2020

Researchers involved: Julian Siravo, Kyle Lewis, Will Stronge and Mat Lawrence

Advisory: Danielle Guizzo, Nick Srnicek and Helen Hester

Length: 8 months


Autonomy is collaborating with the Valencian Employment and Training Service, Labora, to jointly develop a strategy to improve the quality of work in the Valencian Community.


The objective of this work is to design a strategy to improve the employment policies that improve the quality of working conditions and facilitate an adequate response to future challenges such as automation, ageing populations, wealth inequality and climate change.


Funded by: the Generalitat Valenciana

Read the full report here

The Ecological Limits of Work

Status: complete

Researchers involved: Philpp Frey

If we were to reduce our working hours to stay within our available CO2 budget, how long would the working week have to be?

Read and download the study here

Employability in the New Economy

Status: completed Sep 2019

Researchers involved: Phil Jones, Matt Phull

Length: 3 – 6 months


What is ’employability’?  Over the past two decades the term has taken on a practical significance both for those looking for jobs and for those doing the hiring. However, it remains relatively absent from current debates on the state of work today. In this report, we unpack what ’employability’ really means for our working lives.


Read the full report here:

'Working to Labour' report

Phil’s blog that accompanied the research:

Part One of Phil's blog
Part Two of Phil's blog
Part Three of Phil's blog
Part Four of Phil's blog

Supported by: CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership.

The Shorter Working Week: a radical and pragmatic proposal

Status: complete

Researchers involved: Kyle Lewis, Aidan Harper, Helen Hester, Nic Murray, Danielle Guizzo, Will Stronge, Madeleine Ellis-Petersen, Matt Cole

A shorter working week is not only desirable, but it is a practical response to multiple crises.

Read and download the report here

The Post-Work City

Status: completed April 2018

Researchers involved: James Trafford, Diann Bauer, Maria Dada, Julian Siravo, Will Stronge

Length: 3 months


A collaborative project with graphic design students and staff at the University for the Creative Arts that combined an engagement with urban planning, utopian scenario-modelling and the political economy of the crisis of work.


For the outcomes of this project please go here.


In collaboration with UCA Epsom.