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REEF’s research seeks to craft an empowering future for work in a rapidly changing world.

Its focus is upon methodological, conceptual and empirical research that contributes to a better understanding of the advances and practices that can help re-imagine empowering organisations of the future. It does so in ways that playfully and critically interrogate both traditional employment and post-employment relations, looking for innovative organisational practices as clues for more broadly egalitarian futures.

The Centre works with a range of organisations to fulfil its goals and is continually looking for new partners to expand its frontiers of knowledge. Our partnership with The People Space ensures that we remain at the cutting edge of HR practice.

REEF’s research makes a real difference to the practice of organisations, from influencing how organisations support employees experiencing menopause to how care can be better integrated to support trans adults.

It also enjoys strong partnerships with trade unions such as the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the Communication Workers Union and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, and with the environmental activism movement.


The People Space logoCircumstances are right for meaningful and fundamental change in the world of work. But what will that change look like – and what role will HR play in it?

We are partnering with The People Space throughout 2021 to highlight the issues and suggest how HR can help work to become radically better.

There has been a lot of discussion about the “future of work”, often as a point on an imagined horizon. However, there are changes taking place right now, including the use of new digital technology, the growth of the gig economy, and new forms of worker agency that will shape what future we get, for better or worse.

Dr Jamie Woodcock
Senior Lecturer in Management, OUBS

Latest News

Self-employment: what is it, why do it and how has the pandemic affected it?

OUBS Academic Professor Liz Daniel discusses the lasting legacy of the pandemic on self-employment and homeworking, the ‘passionpreneur’ and describes how mental load is affecting self-employed women. Read the full article.

Selecting futures: The role of conviction, narratives, ambivalence, and constructive doubt

OUBS Professor Mark Fenton-O'Creevy and UCL Professor David Tuckett's paper "Selecting futures: The role of conviction, narratives, ambivalence, and constructive doubt" is published in Futures and Foresight Science. They argue, in this study, that conviction narrative theory (CNT), a theory of choice under radical uncertainty (Johnson et al., 2021), is a useful new approach to theorizing the role of narratives about the future and how they facilitate human action. Read the paper.

The rise of employee surveillance and why we must co-create the future of work

Andrew Pakes, deputy general secretary and research director at union Prospect, discusses the rise of surveillance software and why all stakeholders must come together to co-create a human-centred future of work. Watch the video.

Where basic income fits in the future of work - and why it matters to business

OUBS Academic Dr Charles Barthold explains what a basic income is, why the circumstances are right to test it now and why business should be involved in the debate. Read the full article.

How to become a more mindful ethical practitioner

Dr Nela Smolović-Jones discusses issues organisations need to consider today, from dealing with ‘wicked problems’ to gendered corruption, and offers her top tips for leaders to enable them to be mindful. Read the full article.

Sustainable Leadership: How to put people at the heart of the green economy

How do you build a business that is positive for people, the planet, society and the economy? Maria Chenoweth, OU MBA alumna and Chief Executive of second-hand clothing charity TRAID, offers her top tips. Read the full article.

Resetting capitalism: How organisations can work for progress, people and planet

Capitalism as we know it is unsustainable. It is financially unstable, bad for the environment and politically unpopular. An increasing number of voices, including some of the world's most powerful leaders, are calling for business and society to align their mission, vision and rewards for the common good. How can organisations step up and play their part in this transformation? Read the full article.

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Resetting trust in work

The pandemic cast a spotlight on much-hyped corporate purpose statements. In the glare of scrutiny, when the chips were down, organisations saw an uncomfortable question come to the fore: were they living up to the ideals they espoused? Some clearly weren’t. Read the full article.

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Two notable visiting fellows join REEF

Joining on an indefinite basis are the renowned political economist, writer and broadcaster Grace Blakeley and Chief Executive of the innovative textile reuse charity TRAID, Maria Chenoweth. Read the full article.

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Resetting equality in work

Since the beginning of the first lockdown, what has become painfully, obviously, clear was that while we might all be in the same storm, we are in very different boats – and some have sprung a leak. Read the full article.


The International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC) will be hosted by REEF in December 2021. Find out more here.

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OUBS expert speaks to House of Lords Covid-19 Committee’s inquiry

Dr Jamie Woodcock made several recommendations when he was invited to give oral evidence at the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee inquiry. Read the full article.

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The Great Work Reset

When historians look back on 2020, it’s not hard to imagine them defining it as the year that pressed the reset button on how we live and work. The question is, however, will any of this change stick? And will the trends that do stick turn out to be the positive ones that empower people or those that shore up pre-crisis patterns, such as precarious work? Read the full article.


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