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What do we want from work? Millions of people are now reinventing their working lives. Ruth Barnes presents the first in a new series exploring the changing world of work.

There are now five million self-employed people in the UK, it’s the fastest-growing group of workers. Sometimes it's a case of "needs must" as conventional industries collapse - but the evidence suggests that most are doing it because they want to, they see themselves as breaking free.

The internet is full of inspirational talks from the late Steve Jobs and others, exhorting us to take risks, set out on our own, make our fortune. But with the average freelancer earning only £240 a week - about half the earnings of the average employee - what is the price of freedom?

In this first programme, Breaking Free, Ruth hears from people who have reinvented their working lives, becoming taxi drivers, brewers or cleaners. She talks to David Graeber, an anthropology professor who tapped into something really big when he published his book Bullshit Jobs.

Ruth Barnes spent ten years as a producer and presenter at the BBC, covering music and culture across the national radio. She’s written and presented music documentaries for Radio 4, reported live from the Glastonbury Festival for BBC Radio 5 Live and the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival for BBC Radio 2. In 2006, Ruth started her own online radio show The Other Woman, to showcase new music from female artists. She is three years into running her own podcast production company Chalk & Blade, an independent start-up based in East London.

Producers: Susan Marling and Elizabeth Burke
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes presents the first in a new series about the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

What do we want from work? Millions of people are now reinventing their working lives. Ruth Barnes presents the first in a new series exploring the changing world of work.

There are now five million self-employed people in the UK, it’s the fastest-growing group of workers. Sometimes it's a case of "needs must" as conventional industries collapse - but the evidence suggests that most are doing it because they want to, they see themselves as breaking free.

The internet is full of inspirational talks from the late Steve Jobs and others, exhorting us to take risks, set out on our own, make our fortune. But with the average freelancer earning only £240 a week - about half the earnings of the average employee - what is the price of freedom?

In this first programme, Breaking Free, Ruth hears from people who have reinvented their working lives, becoming taxi drivers, brewers or cleaners. She talks to David Graeber, an anthropology professor who tapped into something really big when he published his book Bullshit Jobs.

Ruth Barnes spent ten years as a producer and presenter at the BBC, covering music and culture across the national radio. She’s written and presented music documentaries for Radio 4, reported live from the Glastonbury Festival for BBC Radio 5 Live and the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival for BBC Radio 2. In 2006, Ruth started her own online radio show The Other Woman, to showcase new music from female artists. She is three years into running her own podcast production company Chalk & Blade, an independent start-up based in East London.

Producers: Susan Marling and Elizabeth Burke
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes presents the first in a new series about the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

0220190412

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Not only is the nature of work changing, so too are the places where work is done. The traditional office is increasingly giving way to co-working spaces. All over the country, these new short term, flexible spaces are gaining ground. They are often decorated in a modern style without the dreary partitions and grey photocopiers associated with the traditional office, and offer a whole lifestyle - not just healthy food in on-site cafes, but yoga and free prosecco, classes for personal and professional improvement, even a summer camp.

But what's the cost?

The alternative, working from home, has its downsides too, as Ruth discovers. People can feel lonely and undervalued.

For some, such as social and health workers, the move is to "agile working", which often means there's no office at all - just work from the car.

We may hate the office - its appearance and its associated culture - but has it yet been bettered?

Producers: Susan Marling and Elizabeth Burke
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work. Is the office dead?

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Not only is the nature of work changing, so too are the places where work is done. The traditional office is increasingly giving way to co-working spaces. All over the country, these new short term, flexible spaces are gaining ground. They are often decorated in a modern style without the dreary partitions and grey photocopiers associated with the traditional office, and offer a whole lifestyle - not just healthy food in on-site cafes, but yoga and free prosecco, classes for personal and professional improvement, even a summer camp.

But what's the cost?

The alternative, working from home, has its downsides too, as Ruth discovers. People can feel lonely and undervalued.

For some, such as social and health workers, the move is to "agile working", which often means there's no office at all - just work from the car.

We may hate the office - its appearance and its associated culture - but has it yet been bettered?

Producers: Susan Marling and Elizabeth Burke
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work. Is the office dead?

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Not only is the nature of work changing, so too are the places where work is done. The traditional office is increasingly giving way to co-working spaces. All over the country, these new short term, flexible spaces are gaining ground. They are often decorated in a modern style without the dreary partitions and grey photocopiers associated with the traditional office, and offer a whole lifestyle - not just healthy food in on-site cafes, but yoga and free prosecco, classes for personal and professional improvement, even a summer camp.

But what's the cost?

The alternative, working from home, has its downsides too, as Ruth discovers. People can feel lonely and undervalued.

For some, such as social and health workers, the move is to "agile working", which often means there's no office at all - just work from the car.

We may hate the office - its appearance and its associated culture - but has it yet been bettered?

Producers: Susan Marling and Elizabeth Burke
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work. Is the office dead?

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

0320190419

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Recruiting staff used to be a question of reading through a pile and CVs and conducting interviews to find the best candidate. But, as Ruth discovers, everything has changed.

Many job applicants are faced initially with online interviews - speaking into the camera of their laptop in response to automatic questions. But can an algorithm be trusted to select the best candidate?

And what of the gaming app which offers job hunters the opportunity to play through some scenarios that sort out their strength and weaknesses? Ruth tries it out - and finds out why she'll never become an air traffic controller.

We look at how some online tools can help recruitment, especially for those seeking casual work. And Ruth asks what employers must do to recruit and retain the best talent. A cosmetics firm thinks it has the answer.

Producer: Kim Normanton
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her exploration of working life with the Recruitment Revolution.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

0320190419

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Recruiting staff used to be a question of reading through a pile and CVs and conducting interviews to find the best candidate. But, as Ruth discovers, everything has changed.

Many job applicants are faced initially with online interviews - speaking into the camera of their laptop in response to automatic questions. But can an algorithm be trusted to select the best candidate?

And what of the gaming app which offers job hunters the opportunity to play through some scenarios that sort out their strength and weaknesses? Ruth tries it out - and finds out why she'll never become an air traffic controller.

We look at how some online tools can help recruitment, especially for those seeking casual work. And Ruth asks what employers must do to recruit and retain the best talent. A cosmetics firm thinks it has the answer.

Producer: Kim Normanton
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her exploration of working life with the Recruitment Revolution.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Recruiting staff used to be a question of reading through a pile and CVs and conducting interviews to find the best candidate. But, as Ruth discovers, everything has changed.

Many job applicants are faced initially with online interviews - speaking into the camera of their laptop in response to automatic questions. But can an algorithm be trusted to select the best candidate?

And what of the gaming app which offers job hunters the opportunity to play through some scenarios that sort out their strength and weaknesses? Ruth tries it out - and finds out why she'll never become an air traffic controller.

We look at how some online tools can help recruitment, especially for those seeking casual work. And Ruth asks what employers must do to recruit and retain the best talent. A cosmetics firm thinks it has the answer.

Producer: Kim Normanton
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her exploration of working life with the Recruitment Revolution.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.

Ruth Barnes continues her series exploring the changing world of work.

Recruiting staff used to be a question of reading through a pile and CVs and conducting interviews to find the best candidate. But, as Ruth discovers, everything has changed.

Many job applicants are faced initially with online interviews - speaking into the camera of their laptop in response to automatic questions. But can an algorithm be trusted to select the best candidate?

And what of the gaming app which offers job hunters the opportunity to play through some scenarios that sort out their strength and weaknesses? Ruth tries it out - and finds out why she'll never become an air traffic controller.

We look at how some online tools can help recruitment, especially for those seeking casual work. And Ruth asks what employers must do to recruit and retain the best talent. A cosmetics firm thinks it has the answer.

Producer: Kim Normanton
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Ruth Barnes continues her exploration of working life with the Recruitment Revolution.

Ruth Barnes presents a new series exploring the changing world of work.