Blog and news

Keep up to date with the latest blog and news stories from the REEF team of academics.


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Welcome to the new REEF blog!

Welcome to the official blog of The Open University’s centre of academic excellence for Research into Employment, Empowerment, and Futures (REEF).

We will be using this space to share news and opinion pieces relevant to REEF, concerning research, education, policy, industry, and social action agendas. Blog items will be authored by REEF members and invited external guest experts.

If you would like to contribute a blog post, please get in touch with the REEF Directors, Alexandra Bristow and Caroline Clarke.

We hope you enjoy the blog, as new blogposts will be published regularly.


Doing books, careers, and book launches differently

OUBS Dr Richard Longman reviews the launch of 'Doing Academic Careers Differently: Portraits of Academic Life', edited by Sarah Robinson, Alexandra Bristow, and BLCC’s Olivier Ratle. Read the full article post here.

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.

Illustration of cartoon person looking out of a large oval window at a tall building

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.

Illustration of cartoon person slicing off the 'in' from the word inequality with a sword

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.

Image of Doctor Jamie Woodcock

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.

Illustration of people in various workplaces

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.