About What Works

From day one, What Works has endeavored to question assumptions about what really “works.”

What works for small business owners and freelancers? What works when it comes to money, and how we earn it? What works when it comes to leadership and culture-making in communities and organizations?

Today, the primary question is:

What Works when it comes to, well, work?

Work has evolved.
But the way we work has not.

Work had already changed dramatically in the 21st century. More people worked as independent contractors, fewer people enjoyed reliable schedules, and service sector workers were a rapidly growing segment of the workforce.

But in March 2020, the pace of change accelerated to warp speed. Office workers learned to work from home. Frontline and service workers learned to care for their coworkers in new ways. And still others started to question the priorities and goals that led them to their careers in the first place.

For the first time since the heyday of the labor movement, we started to question everything we thought we knew about work.

What’s really going on here?

I started working from home back in 2009. I did so after a 5-year stint in retail management post-college. So it’s been over 14 years since anyone dictated how I spend my time or get my work done.

And honestly? I’ve been trying to figure out what works for work the whole time.

I’ve also been trying to figure out why everything I was told about working hard, going to college, and getting a “good” job had not come to pass for me. And for lots of other folks.

About seven years ago, I started to confront my toxic relationship to goals and striving. As a result, I learned how many cultural, political, and economic systems set the stage for my unhealthy, achievement-obsessed behavior. That’s the subject of my book, What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal-Setting.

Tara McMullin

Writer. Podcaster. Producer.

We’re at the beginning of a new labor movement.

Yes, that means recognizing technology, information, and service workers as workers. It means grassroots organizing and collective bargaining. It’s a labor movement that transcends boundaries between employees, independent contractors, freelancers, micro-business owners, and gig workers. 

At the heart of this labor movement must be a complete overhaul of our stories about what work is, how it shapes who we are, and how work contributes (or doesn’t) to our communities. That’s the project at the center of What Works.

It’s time for a humane, equitable, and just approach to every aspect of work.

What Works is an independent, self-funded project that produces in-depth, thoroughly researched podcast episodes and newsletter articles.

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