The future of work holds many exciting possibilities, many of which we are already seeing come to life today. More than ever before, independent professionals are helping to fill workforce needs with their expertise and in-demand skill sets.
We’ve taken a look at our own in-depth data, analyzed independent workforce studies, and have talked to other industry leaders to compile 10 predictions for the future of work, which include the following:
Read the Full Report: 10 Predictions for the Future of Independent Work
Nearly 42 million people currently work as independent professionals, and independent work is or has been a part of nearly 47% of American’s careers. We anticipate that number growing to more than half of the workforce over the next five years.
We’ve seen a rapid rise in commodity platforms, where buyers engage independent workers to perform an undifferentiated service such as driving a car or delivering takeout. These independents often turn to independent work as a side gig to generate extra income. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen many highly-skilled workers go independent for the many lifestyle benefits and increased income it can offer. We expect to see independent work on both ends of this barbell continue to grow.
Many independent professionals are relying on internet-driven platforms to build networks, and find and manage work opportunities. These online platforms are likely to continue to grow and companies will begin to design their own marketplaces to attract independent talent.
By teaming up with other industry experts, independent professionals can offer superior, and often more cost-effective results to their clients. We predict that working together as needed will become more common for independents, as brokering can help them expand their networks and deliver in-demand solutions to clients more quickly—a lucrative way to grow their business.
Technology and AI is an ever-evolving realm, but we don’t expect that independents will lose their jobs to machines entirely in the near future. Most independents (55%) say they don’t anticipate their work being replaced by machines, automation, or robots in the next 10 years.
Traditional retirement, for many, is no longer a feasible path. More workers than ever today are unable, or unwilling, to fully retire from the workforce. Older workers are turning to independence as a way to continue to use their expertise while maintaining an income and work/life flexibility.
Workforce agility is a frequent discussion in today’s C-suite, and companies are increasingly realizing that the independent workforce is beneficial in helping them to rapidly adapt and innovate. Independent talent can offer in-demand skills that aren’t currently present in a company’s FTE population, and can be brought in to complete strategic projects.
Independent professionals increasingly have a choice in the clients they choose to work for. In order to attract and retain the top talent they need, organizations are beginning to implement policies and procedures that take the needs of independents into account. These changes include flexible and fast payment terms, and preferential vehicles to easily engage and re-engage top talent.
Many independent professionals stand to benefit from 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Qualified pass-through businesses can deduct 20 percent of qualified business income, which may encourage more people to go independent as they will see a significant financial advantage on their tax returns.
Legal policy and federal law will need to change to keep pace with this fast-changing economy and quickly-growing independent workforce. These changes may include a certification or licensure for compliant independent professionals, or perhaps better clarification for independent contractor classification under the law.
To learn more about each of MBO’s predictions, visit mbopartners.com/future-of-work
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