Self unLimited concept of Workscapes

workscape [wərkˌskāp]
n. a space in time, and a space in society, where an individual’s experience of work takes place

This is not a typing mistake. We really mean ‘workscape’ – and not ‘workspace’ or ‘workplace’.

Why create a new word?

In being Self unLimited, we try to avoid the term ‘work’ to explain what you do to occupy your time. Work is often seen as the context in which you get paid for contributing your time and skill to another organisation. This doesn’t account for activity where you are not paid (e.g. volunteering). Nor activity where you might contribute very little time but generate a lot of value. Nor activity you do with individuals rather than formally recognised entities (e.g. coaching/mentoring).

To use the term ‘workplace’, is to give power – in a conversation about work – to an organisation who owns, organises and operates the physical place in which people work. Self unLimited philosophy intends that You take power over your work and the space it occupies in time and society.

How many Workscapes are there?

There are multiple perspectives of workscape:

  1. Lifetime Workscape – a workscape that opens when you start your first job, and closes when you decide you have finished ‘working’
  2. Current Workscape – all the current activity and context in which you work
  3. Broad Workscape – the totality of all the workscapes of a group of people in an organisation, a profession or a sector

Your current job is simply one ‘gig’ in a Lifetime Workscape of many serial gigs, as well as one gig in Current Workscape of potentially many co-existing gigs, and a part of the Broad Workscape you share with colleagues.

The diagram below illustrates some of these perspectives of your vocational life:

  • Lifetime Workscape (light blue outline) with multiple eras (green shaded boxes)
  • Current Workscape with either a single gig (black box) or multiple gigs (red outline)

Note: ‘Eras’ (green-shaded boxes) are time-periods decided by you, that are a meaningful way of grouping a series of gigs together, e.g. working in a particular sector.

Life-stages within Lifetime Workscape

Any Lifetime Workscape can be broadly divided into Life-stages. Life-stages are generic periods of time connected to chronological age, or external circumstances. They are different than Scenarios (which is a mode of being/working that you choose, and can vary over time).

In each of the Life-stages, what you are doing or care about can differ greatly according to the progress of human development. This can influence what you need, and how you wish to approach your choices for any Scenario you adopt.

We use the Life-stage concept along with the Scenario concept to organise and tailor advice to be most relevant to You. It is the combination of Scenario and Life-stage that defines different Journeys.

Here is an overview of the four Life-stages.



Figure 02 M

LS1: Early workscape

(17-30 years old)

People in this stage may be starting their first job; they may be studying beyond a high-school education; they may be in the early years of an apprenticeship or graduate program; or they may be settling into an initial trade or profession and a way of working.

They have low and emerging expertise in their first field of vocational activity. They typically have low and emerging ability in life skills in general. They generally have a different disposition to work and life, seeing themselves as young with a long future in work ahead of them before they consider ‘retirement’ (in whatever form that takes).  They are generally embracing the freedom that comes with being a young adult, and less afraid to take risks.

Focus me * Challenge me * Connect me

Cartoon character of Mike

LS2: Mid workscape

(30-55 years old)

People in this stage have been working for many years and often had multiple jobs. They’ve developed a range of life skills as they navigated relationships, family and other ‘grown-up’ responsibilities. They typically have substantial experience and expertise in one or two fields. They see themselves as too young to retire, capable of learning yet more circumspect about the kinds of risks they might be willing to take. They can be feeling the symptoms of ‘mid-life crisis’ as events highlight their growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of what they thought they should have accomplished in life by this stage.

Inspire me * Broaden me * Update me

Figure 10 L

LS3: Later workscape

(55+ years old)

People in this stage are looking forward and contemplating retirement – whatever that might mean. They often have a financial base as a result of no or low mortgage; and an empty nest as children have left home and making their own way in the world. They may struggle with society’s view that they are ‘exiting’ the workforce as they have much to offer in life and vocational experience.  They are typically in good health with energy to do things, and with passions or achievements still to be fulfilled.  They are open to exploring new things including taking some risks they wouldn’t have contemplated.

People in this stage could be ‘working’ in their 70s, 80s or 90s – current medical advances indicate such extended life expectancy with reasonable levels of fitness!

Reinvent me * Energise me * Involve me

Figure01 i

LS4: Between gigs

(Age not applicable)

People are in this stage are not currently working – sometimes referred to as unemployed.

They may have willingly left a job that no longer met their needs, or been made redundant by an organisation.  They may be on a break from normal work because of health or family priorities. They are expecting that they need to be in work or connected to work for financial and other reasons. This state can often be disorientating and creates an opportunity to re-examine what they want to be doing, why they are doing it and how they want to do things in the near future.

Support me * Facilitate me * Update me


How do Scenarios fit with the Workscape concept?

As you choose to operate from a Self unLimited perspective, your Lifetime Workscape will consist of one or more of four potential Scenarios.  No Scenario is more valuable than another – you choose the Scenario that best fits your circumstances. The Scenarios are not sequential – you may go from S1 to S4 without ever doing S2 or S3.

The diagram below illustrates a Lifetime Workscape with different Scenarios, and includes periods of time where no Scenario is operating, e.g. study, vacation,  paternity/maternity/carer leave.

A example of a Life-time workscape with a variety of scenarios

Whichever Scenario you choose for your current workscape, the same seven Responsibilities are a consideration for your decisions and action.

Learn more

Self unLimited learning options, book and Folkscape Community are ways to explore what the concept of Workscapes (and Life-stages) means for you; and what to do about that.

Core Concepts

You are currently exploring one of the core concepts of the Self unLimited framework.

Mindsets  Responsibilities  Workscapes  Scenarios  Journeys