Unfucking Work with Cathryn Barnard
Cat is a partner and co-founder at Working the Future, a consultancy helping business leaders both make sense of the future of work and build easy-to-implement, people-centred, future-proofing strategies.
With a previous career in workforce planning spanning three decades and experience of growing her own successful businesses, Cat recognises the criticality of human connection and relationship in accelerating team engagement and performance.
As work becomes increasingly underpinned by digital technology, amazing commercial opportunity emerges. Optimally blending the best of human AND technology delivers customised client experiences that drive brand loyalty and enhance success outcomes.
What is the one thing you would do to unilaterally unfuck work?
We have to get back to basics in business. At heart, all organisations are little more
than a collective of human beings, gathering in pursuit of a shared goal.
Business has always been about relationships, until the digital revolution that is. If
we disregard the emotional dynamics that underpin both how people make choices
and how loyalty and trust build over time, we can only ever expect transient and
mediocre transactions with those around us.
Fortunately, we’re social creatures by design. We just need help to re-learn our
innate social capabilities.
What is the best example of unfucking work you’ve seen in the wild?
I’ve been fortunate enough in the past year to collaborate on the Carbon Almanac
project. The Carbon Almanac book was written, illustrated and published by more
than 300 volunteers scattered across all corners of the globe, and it’s the first single-
source repository of climate data to have been produced. The sense of community
within the volunteer network is second to none and has underpinned collaboration on
a scale I’ve not seen since the early days of my career.
Who is your unfucking work icon? The ultimate Work Pirate?
I have to say, the teams I worked with in the 1990s to design, build and commercially
launch mobile phone networks across Europe are my icons. The pace and grace
with which we got sh*t done has left a lasting impression on me. It spurs me on to
replicate and reproduce the high engagement and high performance I KNOW can be
achieved when the right team dynamics are optimised.
Recommend a book, podcast or article to our Work Pirates crew that made you
think differently about work.
I know Michelle from Work Pirates will already have sung the praises of Carol
Sanford, so I’m going to go with Dare to Un-Lead by Céline Schillinger as my
outstanding future of work book of 2022.