John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

We helped Knight Foundation understand the needs of today’s independent workers.

As part of Knight’s exploration of ways to support American communities, we conducted design research to help them cut away the hype about the “future of work” and develop an understanding informed by the reality of actual people in cities where Knight invests.

Based on ethnographic research with participants in a handful of cities, we formulated five areas of opportunity related to the needs of independent workers:

  1. Getting Started

  2. Building Business

  3. Structuring Choice

  4. Finding a Guild

  5. Feeling Secure

This project culminated in a design brief for the foundation’s Civic Innovation In Action Studio, which gathered 100+ leaders from around the country to explore ways to harness talent, advance opportunity and promote robust engagement.

We’ve edited the outcome of this research into a series of essays:

Bye bye, busytown
Leading Edge
Market Realities and Networked Dreams
Fringe Benefits