An Intuit report predicts that 40 per cent of workforce will be freelancers by 2020.
It’s very unlikely that offices will disappear dramatically in the next ten years.
However, offices could have a different function – acting more like a temporary anchor and a base, while the majority of the staff are either homeworkers or freelancers.
The world of work is changing, as career paths become multifaceted with the average working life encompassing periods as an employee, some years of self-employment and inevitably also times of unemployment.
According to Denis Pennel, in many countries, up to 30 different types of labour contract are in use, and the percentage of people employed under non-standard contracts continues to grow. In Japan, 35% of people work under non-permanent contracts. The figure is 40% in the EU, and some 15% of the EU workforce – around 33 million people – are self-employed. This number rises to 25% in the US. Even those Europeans with ‘standard’ contracts now work atypical hours – with two-thirds working evenings or weekends as opposed to the classic ‘nine to five’.
Workers are seeking a new freedom and flexibility in their work.
In the new economic era, companies need staff to work in more creative and autonomous ways, based on temporary projects, and workers are choosing freelance projects and temporary assignments seizing control of their own destiny and creating a working life to suit them. And the good news is that it seems to be making people happier too: a recent survey from the UK Royal Society of Arts shows 84% of self-employed are happier in work than employees, despite the fact that they may earn less!
Recent research from IPSE is even more positive, showing almost nine in ten freelancers are very satisfied by working independently and increasingly enjoy an à la carte approach to their work, including the type of contract they work under, their pension terms, their working hours, their holiday entitlement and of course their pay.
At the same time, workers are expected to be contactable at any time, even on holiday, and to respond to emails and calls 24/7. This work-life blend often leads to exhaustion, frustration and ultimately burnout.
We encounter the emergence of a new, collaborative economy and a renewed spirit of entrepreneurship as people create portfolio working lives, relying on contacts, word of mouth and the growing number of specialist online platforms (such as Upwork, Clickwork and Youpijob) which have appeared in response to this new trend. These platforms allow people to network and to trade goods and services as part of a thriving collaborative economy.
A recent piece of research from McKinsey shows that online talent platforms serve as clearinghouses that can inject new momentum into job markets. By 2025, McKinsey calculates they could add $2.7 trillion, or 2%, to global GDP and increase employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions. Up to 540 million individuals could benefit from online talent platforms by 2025. As many as 230 million could shorten search times between jobs, reducing the duration of unemployment, while 200 million who are inactive or working part-time could work additional hours through freelance platforms. For employers, this new era challenges their established talent acquisition models. Companies that are only looking to recruit direct, full time staff are missing out on some of the best talent in the market. By contrast, those companies with agile talent supply chain management strategies that allow them to recruit across all labour types and scale their operations on demand, are gaining a competitive advantage.
In the future we could reach the stage where people have work, but don’t actually have a job.
Average job duration continues to shorten along with the lifespan of companies. While someone born in 1940 would have had an average of 2.4 jobs by the age of 40, one born in the 1960s has already had 4.1 jobs and the US Labor Department foresees that someone in education today will hold between 10 and 14 jobs by the age of 38. This means people will have to assume greater responsibility for their own career – and furthermore there will be an important role for labour market intermediaries in identifying work opportunities and supporting people to move from one job to another and make swift and successful transitions in the workplace.
The workplace has changed dramatically over recent years. With such rapid advancements in technology, it has enabled remote working to take place on an unprecedented level. With a rise in the number of people freelancing and taking on contract work – who are not tied down to an office – what will the workplace look like in ten years’ time?
Work is no longer a place
Work normally brings up connotations of a certain desk in a certain building, which you arrived at after a certain commute in the morning. This is gradually changing. New technology such as ubiquitous internet, smartphones and tablets, and cloud computing has enabled not only freelancing to grow, but also employees to work from home more easily from time to time. While you could argue that interaction with colleagues or clients becomes an issue with remote working, advancements in video technology such as Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts have helped to bridge this gap. Or, of course, there’s still the good old-fashioned landline connection – if you still have one, that is.
Keep in touch with developments in the regular working work
Not only is it vital to create and maintain close relationships with prospective clients as part of the role, you are also tasked with managing the financial aspects of your career.
While this may not be a problem for those freelancers with a wealth of experience, there are certain aspects of the role that can still be problematic after years in this line of work – including the perils of loneliness in such an isolated role.
This is why the opportunity to work on-site as part of an exciting new contract is one that many contractors will not pass up, as it gives them the chance to be a part of the traditional working environment while allowing you to connect with prospective customers of the future.
However, spending so much time in the comfort of your own home means you may not be unfamiliar with developments in the regular working work – which could lead to awkward moments or embarrassment with your temporary colleagues.
There are several advantages of travelling to an office each day to carry out your daily tasks as a freelancer, including:
- You are more likely to remain focused and have improved productivity when you are not surrounded by the distractions that working from home brings. Being around other people who are busy may also help your concentration levels.
- Being in an office gives independent professionals the chance to network with your “colleagues” in the office and other businesses operating within the same building.
- Clients are more likely to take you seriously if they are able to put a face to your name, while getting to know you on a personal level may help you create further deals.
Here are some reasons why there may be fewer people in conventional offices in ten years’ time.
There’s a good chance that in 2024, many of the devices we cherish and use frequently could lie discarded like our VHS players and tape recorders do currently.
The concept of wearable technology is expected to make an impression on the market within the next couple of years – and the fact that this will be on your person at all times only increases the potential of working wherever this may be. Whether this is a smartwatch, smartglasses or even smart contact lenses – the possibilities are endless. With so many technological giants competing over market share, this will hopefully spark more creativity and innovation in the production of new devices and gadgets.
Superfast broadband is growing in popularity and availability, meaning you could have faster internet at your house than you do in your place of work. This will only ameliorate what are currently slightly lagging video calls with colleagues or clients.
Cloud computing has come to the fore in recent years and seems to be showing no signs of losing popularity. With hybrid solutions offering firms the best of both worlds – private clouds for sensitive data and cheaper, public clouds for other material – data is readily available in any place at any time from a wealth of devices. With online safety and security improving, it’s only a matter of time before more firms take the leap and do away with heavy physical servers, reducing the need for office space.
One common downside to freelancing is loneliness. While many are happy to avoid the morning commute and make small talk around the water cooler with colleagues they don’t especially like, there is a sense of community in an office that a freelancer can miss out on. Jellies across the country are combatting this problem and are almost becoming rivals to the conventional workplace. While it seems ironic that freelancers enjoy not being constrained to an office, yet have started their own gatherings, it still affords them flexibility – they can choose which jelly they go to and for how long they stay. In addition, some jellies only operate on certain days of the week so it still gives a variety of working locations. Jellies are only set to rise in popularity as freelancers grow in number, stealing people from the conventional office.