The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards remote work and blurred the lines between home and office. The project Remote Futures provides an idea of what the future work situation may look like for the ever-increasing proportion of us who will not necessarily work in a physical workplace anymore.
In order to make possible future scenarios more tangible and imaginable, the website www.remotefutures.work presents four narratives in which personas from 2030 give an account of their work life. All four personas have digital jobs and similar socio-economic backgrounds, but their worker rights, level of competitiveness and work-life balance vary a lot from one to the other. The narratives are visually accompanied by artefacts of the future that connect to the personas’ work life and allow for speculation about the world they might belong to.
The project is based on extensive research using Futures Design methods as well as interviews conducted with people working remotely. It is part of a collaboration between the Designmuseum Denmark, Bespoke CPH and the Royal Danish Academy and part of the digital exhibition Sharing Futures at the Designmuseum Denmark, opened in June 2021.
We did not want to show an exhaustive picture of a predicted future, so we decided to present artefacts that allow for speculation about the world they belong to. Like this we leave enough space for people’s imaginations.
We were inspired by the term Future Mundane introduced by Nick Foster, who argues that by embracing the mundane challenges of a future scenario, it becomes more believable.
We started drafting the future artefacts by thinking about their conceptual meaning. So for each artefact we gathered inspiration, made flat design sketches which we eventually took into a 3D software.
This allowed us not only to make the artefacts appear real and tangible, but also employ different light settings in each future scenario, to create a distinct mood.
As part of the Futures Design Framework we conducted interviews with people working remotely, either because of the COVID-19 pandemic or because they work in fully remote companies. That offered the unique opportunity to discover how people experienced the sudden switch to working from home.
There were a huge amount of interesting thoughts and opinions that people shared with us.
Since the project will be part of the upcoming exhibition The Future is Present at the Designmuseum Denmark opening in June 2022 this is a sketch of how the project could be presented in an exhibition context.