Past Events

Banner reading Institute for Workplace Studies, New York City, Future of Work

May 2, 2019: Financial Health for the Future of Work
with Usman Ahmed, Head of Global Public Policy, PayPal

The future of work debate has sparked a set of important conversations about how to change fundamental institutions like health care, pensions, and labor organiza­tion. Retail financial services must similarly adapt to changes in the way in which peo­ple will be earning an income in the future. This conversation with Usman Ahmed, Head of Global Public Policy at PayPal, will look at new research that PayPal has released analyzing the intersection of future of work issues like automation and gig work with financial health issues like savings gaps and credit access.


The Future of Retail: Flexible Shift Work in the 21st Century 

with: Eric Severson, former Co-CHRO & Senior Vice President, Gap Inc., Appointee, National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Q/A with Jose Davila '87, Management Consultant, Organization Design Specialist, Global Human Resources Executive, ArchPoint Group

Over the past twenty years, flexible shift workers ( who make up about 1/3 of all workers) have become increasingly scheduled by algorithms. Software tells managers when and how much work to give employees. In the short-term, automated scheduling may boost profits, but in the long-run, it destroys morale - and possibly competitive advantage. 

Eric Severson explained how this happened, the implications of the change, and how to find the right balance between algorithmic efficiency and human needs in the workplace of the future. 

Women Entrepreneurs in the Digital Economy: Etsy

with: Althea Erickson, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy, Etsy

With nearly $3 billion in annual sales, Etsy has transformed artisanal goods into big business. More importantly, Etsy has created an opportunity for millions of people, but especially women who are 86% of sellers, to become entrepreneurs in the global digital economy.

Althea Erickson explained how women have become global entrepreneurs through Etsy and what this means for the future of work.

Digital Workers, Digital Organizing:

with: Michelle Miller, Co-founder,

While businesses have moved online successfully, we haven't yet figured out to create a digital labor movement. has pioneered providing workers with a voice in the digital age by empowering IRL workers to organize themselves digitally. Their petitions have changed the lives of millions of workers around the world through self-organized campaigns for workplace change.

Co-founder Michelle Miller talked about the opportunities and challenges for real-life workers and digital organizing in the future of work.

Who Counts? Counting Workers in the Gig Economy

with: Erica Groshen, Former Head of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013-2017

The last time the BLS, which is the official counter of all things work-related, surveyed the "contingent" workforce was in 2005.* This year they will do so again. A lot has changed since 2005, and we expect there to be a very different result this year. 

Dr. Groshen explained why it has been so hard to count workers in this new economy, and what that means for how we think about economic policy.

* "Some people call jobs like these “gigs,” much like the Saturday night gigs your high school garage band played. At BLS we call these contingent or alternative employment arrangements. What do we mean by those terms? Contingent workers do not expect their jobs to last, or their jobs are temporary. Workers with alternative employment arrangements include independent contractors, on-call workers, or people who work through temporary help agencies or contract firms." - Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Maker Movement: Finding Meaning in Work

Mark Frauenfelder, founding editor-in-chief of MAKE Magazine, research director at the Institute for the Future, and co-founder of Boing Boing, will talks about what Makerism means in the 21st century and why it is so necessary as we rethink the future of work.

The Global Gig Economy: Choice or Necessity?

Susan Lund, Economist and Partner, McKinsey Global Institute focuses is on the gig economy. According to recent analysis, 94% of all net new jobs in the past ten years are freelance, temp, part-time, or gig labor. The story of this change--as a choice or as a necessity--appear to be mutually exclusive. Critics see this shift as the death of the good job, while proponents see this as liberation from the 9-to-5. Susan Lund will complicate this good/evil story, drawing on new research that shows the divergent experiences of workers in the gig economy around the world, putting numbers to the narratives.

Basic Income: A Response to Disruptive Technology

An evening with Andy Stern, senior fellow at Columbia University and author of Raising the Floor, in conversation with Steven Berkenfeld '81, Managing Director at Barclays Capital.

The first in a series of public forums dedicated to the Future of Work took place September 27th, 2016. Hosted by ILR’s New York City-based Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) and moderated by Associate Professor and IWS director Louis Hyman, the lively discussion centered on disruptive technology, the decline of traditional employment opportunities, the emergence of the gig economy, Universal Basic Income, and other prevailing topics transforming the world of work.

Freelancing in America: The Present and Future of the Gig Economy

Findings from the "Freelancing in America: 2016" study.

On October 7, 2016 Stephane Kasriel, CEO of, and Sara Horowitz ‘84, founder of the Freelancers Union, revealed their annual findings from their joint research study. Upwork is the world’s largest freelancer platform and the Freelancers Union is the world’s largest gig worker organization. Their annual report is the best data on the state of freelancing in the U.S., based on their own unique data. Sara and Stephane discussed the findings and the implications of the report for the future of work.