Watch: 2022 Foenander Public Lecture

The 2022 Foenander Public Lecture was presented by Professor Sharon K. Parker, Curtin University, on Thursday 3 November 2022.

Dystopia or Utopia: What sort of work future is ahead and how can work design make a difference?

Professor Sharon Parker spoke about some of the big challenges ahead for work and workers that are emerging as a result of digital technologies. On the one hand, these technologies bring enormous opportunities for work and society, replacing ‘dull, dirty, and dangerous work’, and augmenting human performance in powerful ways. On the other hand, the technologies, and the work practices they enable, also bring significant risks for work and workers as well, ranging from the eradication of employment opportunities all together, to the creation of work that is more intense, lacking in control, and extensively monitored, amongst other such risks.

On the current trajectory, there is a real danger that we will see both more catastrophic events like Robodebt and flight crashes, as well as insidious negative outcomes such as growing levels of worker burnout. Against this backdrop, Professor Parker argues that researchers and professionals from diverse disciplines need to work together proactively to shape the design of technology, work and new ways of working. Using a work design lens, Professor Parker argues for a revitalised sociotechnical approach to create future work that is healthy and productive.

See previous lectures from the Foenander Public Lecture series.