A blog by Alex Hirst and Lizzie Penny
6th October 2017
Finally, the time has arrived when you never need to miss your child’s first steps, their school play, get out of bed with a hangover or catch a busy commuter train. In the future of work, people are happier. They have the freedom to choose where and when they work for themselves, liberated by technology to seamlessly combine work and life like never before.
The concept of our 9-5 working day is 200 years old, and whilst it brought positive social reform at the time, it is becoming increasingly redundant as people abandon traditional employment in search of a less autocratic system that meets their individual needs without compromising their careers.
There was a time when freelancing was the preserve of artists, photographers and writers; those whose talents were best sold under their own reputation. In recent years, self-employment has taken on new meaning with a huge range of people opting to trade on their own reputation rather than their employer’s. It means they can do more of the work they enjoy, select their clients for themselves and be more motivated to love the work they do. Crucially, it offers them the flexibility to work at home or around their personal commitments and the equal opportunity to be judged by their output- a meritocracy which will be key to achieving equality and diversity within the workforce.
Technology has always shaped the way we work, and it is changing everything, as we speak- making communication faster, easier, cheaper and inherently global. This has opened a door to connect this growing world of freelance talent, creating a movement towards a completely new way of working; the ‘gig economy’. Some researchers project that half of the working population in the U.S. and the UK will move into the gig economy within the next five years- there are already an estimated 1.1 million people in Britain’s gig economy, which is nearly as many workers as in the National Health Service.
The creation of this new labour market creates opportunities for business, too- the UK economy would see an output boost of £90bn, if the demand for flexibility was properly met by employers. This opportunity presented by the gig economy will create a new status-quo between people and companies; where people have greater control and companies need to meet their terms and exceed their ambitions.
Companies are already seizing the opportunity to have flexible access to a limitless network of global talent through outsourcing – tapping into the gig economy either directly with freelancers or through the longer-term solution of communities like Hoxby who provide specialist, vetted and individualised teams. They benefit from significantly reducing their overheads; employing a small, highly engaged nucleus of people to represent their business with the flexible support of outsourced expertise, as and when they need it.
It may take some people and companies a long time to abandon the comfort and familiarity of what they know to be true- but for some of us, the future is already here.