It’s difficult to know what the future of work might hold, but one thing is for certain—independent professionals are poised to be more important than ever before in years to come. Based on insights gathered from 7 consecutive years of industry research, MBO Partners has just revealed 10 predictions for the future of the U.S. independent workforce—and the results may surprise you.
MBO’s 10 predictions for the next decade of independent work include the following:
Over 40% of the U.S. adult workforce reports currently working or previously having worked as an independent and in the next decade, that number will grow to nearly 60%.
Satisfaction levels for Independents are the highest they have ever been, but many will return to traditional work to gain new skills, cycling back to independent work several times.
There will continue to be large-scale growth at both the high and low ends of the independent economic spectrum, with gig workers continuing to partner with commodity platforms (e.g. Uber, TaskRabbit, etc.) to provide task-based services, while demand also increases for highly-skilled Independents, even more of whom will earn more than $100,000 per year.
Organizations will begin to place a premium on the results achieved rather than the worker. Work will become productized and broken into smaller deliverables, and independents will learn how to deliver and charge for scalable units of work.
When bigger and more complex project needs arise, independents will become increasingly savvy about teaming. Many independents already pull together teams to work towards a product or deliverable, and this more modern approach helps avoid the complex, permanent decision of traditional partnership businesses.
Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and shrewd independents will take advantage of these developments rather than resist them. At the high end, many independents may work closely with robots that do more of the menial and automated tasks (so-called “co-boting”), while some less skilled gig workers may be displaced by self-driving cars or drone-based delivery machines.
By 2027, a large portion of Gen Z (currently aged 5 to 19) will be in the working world, and these digital, mobile-literate natives are expected to greatly impact both traditional and independent work. They are the most entrepreneurial and independence-driven generation yet, making them ideal candidates for the independent work lifestyle.
Many Baby Boomers are taking up second careers as independents; this trend will most certainly continue, with workers pursuing passion projects well into their 80s and beyond. Older workers also prefer highly flexible, part-time work, and being independent is the best way to achieve this.
The unique combination of a skills gap, talent shortage, and increasing desire among workers to have an independent career means companies will have to compete in a war for talent, both for traditional employees and Independents. Companies will continue to refine policies to attract top talent, with a focus on becoming a Client of Choice for the independent workforce.
Under the current administration, which has pledged to continue cutting regulations, changes will be made to the U.S. tax code to benefit independent professionals. In addition, actions will be taken to establish a safe harbor with protections and guidelines for the proper engagement of independent professionals. In the coming years, there may even be a certification or licensure established for compliant independent professionals, as championed in MBO’s Certified Self-Employed proposal.
To learn more about each of MBO’s predictions, visit mbopartners.com/future-of-work
To be considered a trusted independent consultant, one must go a long way to become established as a thought leader. While content creation and developing your own “voice” are fundamental elements, a heavy portion of thought leadership development is dedicated to having a presence in your area of expertise’s discourse and industry events, both physically and virtually.
2015 taught us a lot. But 2016 is already shaping up to be a pivotal year for independent contractors, and the enterprises that engage them regularly. From tools and technology to generational change and the remote worker revolution, there’s a lot to learn. We’re offering a brief overview below, and will dive deeper on each issue in the coming weeks.