In just two years’ time, 50% of the workforce will be made up of freelance workers.
That’s according to Workplace 2025, a report based on a study of 3,100 workers and 1,500 HR and c-suite executives in the US by Randstad US.
The research shows that 89% of employers agree that by 2025, companies that are adept at managing a mix of traditional and ‘agile’ talent will be most successful. And 75% of c-suite executives agree the majority of their workforce will be employed in an alternative work arrangement in 2025.
But why are workers choosing to go freelance (or become ‘agile’ workers as the report describes them)? The research suggests a range of different motivations, including:
- 68% agree it better fits their lifestyle.
- 63% believe working as an agile employee will make them more qualified in the future workplace.
- 56% agree agile work makes them more money.
- 48% agile work offers them better career growth than working as a permanent employee.
- 38% agree they feel more job security working as an agile worker than they do as a permanent employee.
These are interesting and powerful motivations. So, how can organisations make the most of this shift to freelance, project-based work? In his review of the book Navigating the Talent Shift, by Lisa Hufford, Marty Zwilling identifies eight ways . . .
1. Build teams to meet goals rather than organization charts
Acquire skills and talent to meet your current goals and needs.
2. Focus on deliverables and skills required right now
Projects have a timescale and specific skills requirements – make sure you focus on these elements.
3. Prioritize objectives and seek expert talent to match.
Clarity on tasks and objectives means you can bring in the right skills at the right time.
4. Build an on-demand team of strategic do-ers.
External consultants have broader sector experience in multiple environments.
5. Think in terms of projects to keep up with an evolving strategy.
Projects do not have to be constrained by organizational boundaries, long-term budgeting, or conventional staffing and training practices.
6. Stay nimble by quickly filling gaps in the existing team.
Bring in external expertise to plug skills gaps – it’s quicker and cheaper.
7. Leverage the broadest possible network.
The on-demand talent pool is large and growing – make sure you leverage this broader network.
8. Maintain budget flexibility as the business changes.
By leveraging on-demand experts, you pay only for the work you need immediately, not the overhead and ongoing costs that go along with hiring full-time employees. It’s the best way to handle budgetary restrictions and cuts.
The Randstad research and our own data suggests that organisations are increasingly interested in using on-demand skills. More and more L&D teams in the UK are bringing in external skills as and when they are required. As well as using freelancers to fulfill specific projects, L&D leaders are looking externally to fill short-term skills gaps.
The freelance economy provides great opportunities for organisations to think about how they could deliver projects in less time and at less cost. Is this what you will be considering in the coming months?
Written by Martin Couzins