Work That Matters:
a conference about resisting meaningless work

24–25 February 2020, London

We’ve all been there. Someone urges you to apply your skills to a worthy goal and then, without irony, hinders all of your attempts to do so. It’s an experience almost guaranteed to wear down the human spirit—and yet, it’s an everyday occurrence in the world of professional work. Why?

Whisper it: if you feel like you’re stuck in a Kafka novel, unable to take the most basic steps towards fulfilling a job description that spoke of making a difference, you’re not alone. People around the world are realising that they’re employed in what anthropologist David Graeber calls a “bullshit job”: a job so pointless, unnecessary or pernicious that even the employee can’t justify its existence (although they feel obliged to pretend otherwise.)

One of the unspoken rules of these jobs is that you deny your knowledge of the ways in which the organisation inflicts harm even as it claims to be a force for good. No amount of declarations of corporate values—from customer-centricity to inclusion to social impact—can obscure the lived experience of being paid money to perform meaningless work. This makes professionals complicit in harm that cascades from the personal (depression and burnout) to the social (grotesque inequality, the rise of neo-fascism) to the global (planetary breakdown). But why is this happening, and what can we do about it?

Work That Matters is a conference founded on the radical notion that society’s problems will not be solved by listening to talks from thought leaders, attending mindfulness seminars or starting a social enterprise that teaches refugees to code. There will be no PowerPoint, no personal success stories, no easy-to-action takeaways. When the usual isn’t working, it’s time to try something different.

We’ll hear from corporate defectors, scholars and organisers; from people struggling to resist their bullshit jobs and those who’ve managed to escape (but no bloody entrepreneurs.) We’ll develop an analysis, zoom out from the personal to the political and build solidarity. How might we collectively reclaim meaningful work from the realm of bullshit, without losing the roofs over our heads? What can we learn from contemporary movements like the Climate Strike, the Green New Deal and Universal Basic Income? Join us in London in February to learn, connect and act in search of Work That Matters.

speaker at a conference
people participating in a workshop session

Costs & what’s included

In the spirit of solidarity, the conference has a tiered cost structure based on gross annual salary (or equivalent income):

Gross annual salary (or equiv. income) Cost of conference (inc. VAT)
£40k or higher £300
under £40k £200

Including two days of…

…incisive talks and workshops; healthy shared lunches (for all diets); deep conversations over tea and coffee.

Places are limited…

…so reserve yours now. You’ll pay a non-refundable deposit of 30% by credit or debit card and we’ll take the balance from your card 60 days before the conference.

You can cancel your booking more than 60 days before the conference, although we won’t refund your deposit. After this point you can’t cancel. We don’t allow transfers.

Any questions?

Contact us.

How to get your employer to pay

Even if you think your employer won’t fund a conference like this, it’s worth asking—you might be surprised.

First ask yourself whether your boss (or whoever makes decisions about training budgets) would sympathise with the ethos of the event. If the answer is yes, send them the link and invite them to attend with you. If the answer is no, send them a training request for a conference about #FutureOfWork.

(We aren’t joking. Eight years running conferences has shown us that there isn’t much that employers won’t spend training budget on, if you make a case that it’s relevant to your job.)

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