“Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce”, a csiro publication from 2016 explored trends at the workplace. AMong the conclusions a very interesting finding was that “there are strong reasons to believe the freelancer and portfolio worker will become a much more common model in tomorrow’s labour market.” Peer-to-peer marketplace and platform economics which have been enabled by digital technologies will dramatically change the structure of organisations and employment models. A majority of Australian workers will be freelancers or portfolio workers by choice and most likely with many employers across the globe at any given time. The arrival of Covid-19 has accelerated this trend with “work from home” and “hot desks at the office only when required” becoming the norm. The future is here and now.
Freelancing by choice, not a necessity
The rise of the freelance or independent worker is a global reality. Businesses and IT leaders need to be readyas this becomes more pervasive by the day. Gartner predicts, “By 2025, customers will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75% of their customer service issues”. Just as the saying goes “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, the extension is “There is no such thing as a permanent job”. Workers on average are expected to turnover 7 to 8 careers within their professional life time. Increasingly, desire for greater autonomy and flexibility drives individuals to seekout freelancing options. This rising freelance culture has both benefits and implications for business operational models as well. Businesses now view working with freelancers as a way to keep the core business competency within the organization. For the one off projects external agents with top skills are brought in to deliver the results and move on. This helps the orgaization to be focused and lean while providing greater flexibility to source and collaborate with the most appropriate skill sets as specific project demands.
Gartner predicts “By 2025, customers will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75% of their customer service issues”. The arrival of Covid-19 has accelerated the trends and has entrenched “work from home” and “hot desk on-site only when needed” practices at warp speed along with vaccine development, so to speak..
Collaboration On Unprecedented Scale
The use of Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype and Zoom provide businesses with infinite flexibility. Their usage and the social acceptance of such collaboration tools have occured on scale due to Covid-19. The disruptive nature of the pandemic has brought forth challenges and opportunties for professionals too. Those that have embraced technology as a means to overcome isolation have been left better off. Large enterprises with advanced technology and work-from-home policies notice little difference when they’re comparing pre-pandemic operations to today’s.
Freelance Market Place
Online Freelance market places have been in vogue for domestic work and small pieces of work and is used by SMEs. However the bigger employers have not yet bought into seeking short term human resources or listing projects in these market places. In short the markey places are in their infancy as far as big organizations are concerned and they have not yet reached a level that would give sufficient confidence to bugger players to pick their freelane resources from these market places.
Conclusion and Takeaways
A majority of workers in developed countries intend to start their own businesses. Many with full time jobs welcome the chance to earn more and broaden their skillsets. Older workers find freelancing a way to stay relevant. They see this as an opportunity to stay relevant where technology trends and tools are changing at ever increasing speeds.
Businesses have come to use the expertise of freelancers on demand as per project demand, while remaining focussed on organizations main processes, products and markets.
The very nature of the workforce is being reshaped by this trend. It is certain that both companies and freelancers are benefitted by matching the skills and short term requirements at organizations. The trend is neither trivial nor a novel pursuit any longer.