Key Takeaways:

  • The way we work is changing forever, especially as freelance and contract gigs are becoming more and more common.
  • Fueled by changes in the makeup of the workforce, technology and some very innovative companies, trends in hiring and employment should not be ignored.
  • Explore three main disruptors changing the space, and how (as both companies and team members) we should brace ourselves.

The way we work is in the process of transformation (or maybe even in disarray). Uber, Airbnb, and other freelance gigs are becoming more common, expanding our ideas about just what it means to have a job.

A lot of these changes have been fueled by technology and the change in the makeup of the workforce; it’s easier than ever before to be a free agent and not tied to any one company, let alone one desk! Here are 3 ways that hiring and employment are being shaken up by technology.

1) Tech is disrupting WHERE you'll work.

We’ve become a connected, mobile society. We also have foldable bikes, electric skateboards, segways, and anything else you may never have imagined that gets you there faster, and that’s adding options and obstacles when it comes to what “working” looks like. The traditional workplace is giving way to open designs and co-working space. And yes, when I’m in a coworking space, I absolutely feel more energized. Technology is creating opportunities for remote work as well as freelance, and on-demand employment.

In a 2016 World Economic Forum survey, 44 percent of respondents said that they were already feeling the impact of technology on how they work, and saw flexible work as the most important driver of change for work in any industry.

Telecommuting, coworking spaces, virtual teams, freelancing and online talent platforms are all on the rise, transcending the physical boundaries of the office or factory floor and redefining the boundary between one’s job and private life in the process. Unfortunately (or fortunately), being attached to a mobile device 24 hours a day is making this even more of an addiction —rather than transformation.

Free agents

It’s estimated that around 20 percent of the U.S. workforce —or one in five workers— are independent, meaning they work on a freelance or contract basis for a variety of companies.  This is a huge shift, and it’s happened quite quickly. The number is projected to increase to around 50 percent by 2020. We’re just beginning to understand its effects on workers and on the ways that companies must adjust their hiring practices. This will also be, and should be, a major concern for companies who own office buildings. So this transformation should not just be focused on the tenant side, but also on the property side. And I hope I don’t have to say, I told you so.

Mobile workforce

About one in four American workers do their jobs remotely, at least some of the time.  Working from home or in the field can allow team members to use their time more productively, eliminating unreasonably long commutes as well as the associated costs and hassles.

This option is increasingly an expectation in many occupations, so employers are making it available wherever possible, in order to attract and retain talent.

2) Coworking is changing the workplace.

The coworking movement is huge, and it’s disrupting how we define “workplace.” Today there are more than 3000 coworking spaces worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica. Particularly with more temporary team members and contract workers, a fixed amount of space just doesn’t cut it for many companies. What also doesn’t cut it, is having less flexibility due to this transformation — it’s that same instant gratification coming over from how we deal with our personal lives. Co-working allows for the utilization of unused space and for more flexibility than traditional commercial leasing.

Co-working offers a lot of advantages, both for companies and their workers, including lower costs, more flexibility, increased productivity, and more opportunities for networking and collaboration.

3) The very definition of “employment” is changing.

Increasingly, there’s an emphasis on creating a “more productive” workforce by hiring on a project-by-project basis in many industries.  This can eliminate many of the costs of hiring that extend beyond payment for services rendered.  Traditionally a new team member represented costs in many areas - recruitment efforts, on-boarding costs such as supplies and training, and finally costs when the team member leaves, such as unemployment premiums, severance packages, and HR costs.

Beyond cost savings, this approach is beneficial to companies because it gives them the ability to quickly expand or contract their workforce in response to their needs and workload. This isn’t to say that the culture of these companies will remain the same. As companies transition to more flexible approaches to hiring, camaraderie among team members can not be ignored.