Redefining Work, Employment and Advancement in the Freelance Economy

What’s the meaning of a job title today? Not what it used to be, it seems.

A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly put it this way:

“The landscape is shifting in areas such as career tracks within organizational hierarchies, notions about full-time jobs within companies, and even the core economic trade-offs between capital and labor. As the new workplace takes shape in the years to come, businesses will need to wrestle with the content of existing jobs, prepare for greater agility in the workplace, and learn to identify the early signals of change.”

What are those early signals of change?

1. Executives are starting to question whether some functions really need to be filled by full-time employees. Marketing, finance, R&D, and other functions are beginning to break away from the set boundaries and traditionally defined full-time roles. Graphite is one of the online hiring platforms that’s providing a place for those temp-hire professionals to find project-based work requiring their high level skill sets. Former full-time jobs like Financial Analyst or Private Equity Associate are morphing into more on-demand and project-based activity.

2. A whole industry is developing around support for project-based work, supplementing  applications providing traditional HR admin or staffing support. New jobs that extend across functions are enabled by the proliferation of software apps built to support the work of remote teams, whether or not each team member is actually an employee of the sponsoring organization.

3. Those applications are enabling remote teams to produce more quickly and efficiently. Work technologies have advanced way beyond the old days of Webinars, weekly team conference calls, and following up with email. Today, those seem almost quaint when we’ve got choices like BaseCamp, Slack or Confluence to keep teams working and communicating in the same virtual spaces all day. If you’ve got a project going through Graphite, we provide internal chat, messaging, file sharing, billing and admin tools that keep everything pertinent to your project handy and in one place.  These technologies mean that individual company initiatives can often have much shorter, project-oriented time frames.

McKinsey’s latest research showed that about 25% of those who hold traditional white-collar jobs would prefer to be independent workers, with greater autonomy and control over their hours. Not only do organizations often benefit from the greater agility of project-based working teams, but so do the workers. Even without the job security or steady income of a salaried job, independent professionals report higher levels of job satisfaction in nearly every other category, from work atmosphere to flexibility of hours, empowerment and creativity. Freelancers have greater ability to manage their own career advancement by being able to demonstrate performance success on the accumulated projects they’ve completed, increasing their own market value as they go.

Preparing for greater workplace agility

One thing you can do right now if you want to make greater use of project-based teams is to make sure your workplace has the right infrastructure to support adding freelancers to your mix at any given point when you might need them. You can read my post on that subject here.  Having a freelancer-friendly working environment ready to go will give you the leg up on your next project, while your competitors may still be scrambling around for the right experienced talent.

 

Source: McKinsey Quarterly

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