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The Future of Work Is Anything You Want It to Be

Today's history books tell the stories of workers who spent their hours tending to farm land, toiling away in cotton factories and going through the motions of assembly lines. Tomorrow's history books will tell a far different story….one in which employees commuted to the same brick-and-mortar office, for eight-hours a day, five days a week. And while this may be the standard of work currently, we're rapidly moving towards a world where the where, how, when and for which company factors of a job are totally irrelevant.

The catalyst driving us toward this future is the growth of the on-demand economy. People expect to be able to order a gourmet meal, watch their favorite show, or hail a ride home whenever and wherever they may be. But what about making employers and employees available on-demand? With over 34 million Americans expected to make the move towards independent work by 2021 – up from 29 million in 2015, this will soon become the norm.

This new approach to work embraces a new breed of worker. More than one in three workers in today's workforce fit the “Millennial" profile, and their prominence will only grow in the coming years. Millennials think about work differently, as only 16 percent expect to see themselves at their current job a decade from now.

This doesn't stem from a lack of commitment to one career path or employer, but instead reflects an openness to unconventional career paths. Their comfortability with “job hopping" is also driven by their decreased reliance on companies providing certain benefits. The number of defined-benefit pensions has decreased by 131,000, and resources like make healthcare an independent venture.

Millennials have also grown up in a rapidly expanding digital world. The Internet has grown to three billion users worldwide, smartphones have become the standard and there are over 10 billion petabytes of data in the digital universe. Marty McFly's video call with his coworker in Back to the Future II is no longer just a fantastical prediction, as online video platforms, such as Skype, have become a necessity in the workplace to communicate with off-site coworkers and clients.

The disconnect from the physical workspace, combined with a growing desire for flexible work, has also changed the way companies look at hiring. HR departments are putting an emphasis on sourcing short-term or freelance talent, as opposed to finding full-time equivalents. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2025, freelance platforms will allow up to 230 million workers to find new jobs faster, and 200 million people who are currently inactive or part-time employees could gain additional hours. A flexible workforce allows companies to be lean, agile and efficient by engaging the right talent at the right time. This is particularly impactful for the majority of companies struggling with employee retention issues and those competing for top talent.

The explosive increase in freelance platforms shows that they will be the main facilitators of the on-demand future of work. Software solution providers, like Catalant, bridge the gap between independent professionals looking for projects, and HR departments seeking out specialized talent. Catalant has over 32,000 active experts on its platform, and that number is growing organically by 500 every week. On the flip side, 100+ Fortune 1000 companies are using the platform to find, track, and manage top talent on demand.

Whether you're a law firm, tech company, or a mom-and-pop shop, the on-demand economy will impact the way you do business. Work hasn't always been defined as we see it today, and it won't always look this way in the future, so it's important to get ahead of the curve. There has never been a better time for the workforce and employers to meet demands, by taking advantage of on-demand. This shift could be the difference that helps your company make history, instead of becoming history.

Rob Biederman is the co-founder and CEO of Catalant, the leading technology platform delivering elite business talent. Prior to founding Catalant, Biederman was a private equity investor at Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital, where he focused on the healthcare and high-tech industries. Biederman attended Princeton University and graduated from Harvard Business School.

The FOW Community blog


The Future of Work Is Anything You Want It to Be

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