© Jason Wong

Future of Work

The new search for purpose

Employer branding is the new trend in corporate cultures: everyone wants to jump on the New Work bandwagon. In addition to new ways of working, every company tries to make its unaffordable added value clear strategically to society and all other stakeholders under identity pressure. What sounds like many advantages for employees at first, leads into a field of tension: Do I want to become part of a (company) ideology or do I want to realize myself in a completely different way?
One example is the FIRE movement from Silicon Valley: consisting of high performers who aim to enter early retirement at 30 and resist the temptations of a promising job.

Meaningfulness – a new search for purpose

A recurring romanticizing in the economy and the associated mindful leadership lead companies to completely redefine themselves: Meaningfulness, i.e. the search for the purpose, are at the centre of company developments. Companies as systems begin to ask themselves through enlightened self-reflection what they can do for others and above all for their employees and to manifest their right to exist as a holistic whole.

Sociologist Hartmut Rosa speaks in this context of new types of relationships that trigger vibrations. He describes them as resonance, as new forms of world relations. This is also what companies strive for when they try to establish new ties within and outside the organisation. Not only since Apple it is clear: Employees follow companies that stand for new ideologies or even for small revolutions in the industry. Purpose is more than CSR, it is about establishing its relevance in the market in the long term.

Companies are thus becoming more empathic, entering into new relationship forums – with equal structures – somehow healthier and perhaps also more long-term. But what does it actually look like on the other side? Everyone at work? And what if they don’t? I was wondering what if we dare to resist these charms. Then what remains? In addition to the New Work followers, are there also those who resist the new promises of work such as flexibility and freedom in the digital age?

The FIRE Movement

Especially exciting: The FIRE movement. Their supporters forbid the desire for productivity and the incentives to work for an organization that stands for something greater. They provide resistance in a quiet, very special way: They reverse the role distributions of industrialization and translate them into a new context. They use the system to their maximum, earn a lot of money quickly and then say goodbye. Work is reduced here to an original function: earning money for a living. The relationship with the company is limited to the direct exchange of services for money.

Techies from the USA live the dream of retirement at 30

FIRE – stands for “Financial Independence, Early Retire”. Your recipe for success? An economical lifestyle and a very good starting salary. The idol of the scene and face of the movement is Mr. Money Mustache. The preacher of financial independence developed guidelines and tutorials for a life in which one is no longer dependent on daily work. However, the starting salary must be right to be part of this movement. To be fair, a member of FIRE emphasizes: “Nothing comes from nothing”. They all have one thing in common, the supporters of FIRE: they are techies in demand on the market like hardly any other professionals. They use their currency as well as possible and look for meaning in other contexts.


Nevertheless, even if the underlying motivation may perhaps arise precisely through the demarcation and withdrawal from the market, a common ground can be found: the FIRE supporters also join a movement and strive towards a goal with a grouping. They share values and convictions: one of them is that of financial independence and early (perhaps better) life without work.