5 Things to Know About the Modern Independent Worker

By MBO Partners | December 7, 2023

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Key Points

More than 72 million Americans report working as part-time, occasional, or full-time independents.

Independents place high value on autonomy, flexibility, and control in their work.

Independent talent are increasingly using online platforms to find work and are working with one another in teams.

MBO Partners’ 2023 State of Independence report found that there have never been more people working independently—more than 72 million Americans reported working as part-time, occasional, or full-time independents. There is a growing demand for independent talent, who are well-positioned to provide companies with flexible, on-demand expertise. And as more people see independent work as a viable alternative to traditional jobs, the more talent will be available to enterprises. Below, we dive into five of the top findings about the modern independent worker.

1. Autonomy, Flexibility, and Control Are Important

One of the main drives for people who pursue independent work is the ability to be their own boss. Independents place high value on the ability to have flexibility in their work, control what they do, and be autonomous. These values take higher priority over financial benefits, with 70% of independents saying doing something they like and having flexibility is more important than making the most money.

These are important considerations for enterprises when engaging independent workers. Because control factors so highly for most independents, they will want to work for a company that understands the importance of flexibility and gives them the space and ability to conduct their work how they see fit. Companies may unintentionally turn away skilled talent by trying to enforce too much control or putting constraints on a contract.

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2. The Majority of Independents Are Very Satisfied with Their Work

The majority of independents choose to work this way, and 77% report being very satisfied with independent work. This is a strong indicator that independent work is not going away any time soon. In fact, 78% of independents say they plan to continue as a independent worker or build a bigger independent business.

Eighty-seven percent of independents say they are happier working their own and 78% say that working on their own is better for their health, so the incentive to transition back to a traditional job is quite low for many. As more businesses recognize the benefits of independent talent and workforce agility, we expect this segment of workers to continue to grow in the coming years.

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3. The Use of Talent Platforms to Find Work is Increasing

The growth of the independent workforce has been coupled with the growth of enabling technology. Platforms that enable companies to find, engage, and manage independents as well as technology that enables remote work have grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. This is an exciting trend that makes it easier for talent and clients to find each other and work together successfully.

In the past 12 months, 40% of independents said they used an online talent platform to find work and 47% say they plan to do so in the next 12 months. Platforms like MBO’s help enterprises match the supply and demand of labor, reduce time-to-fill, and lower recruiting costs. This type of technology can also help to automate previously lengthy tasks such as onboarding, payment, and engagement documentation.

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4. More Independents are Working with One Another in Teams

A further benefit of these advances in technology is the ability for independents to work together in teams. Over the past year, 25% of independents say they have teamed up with other independent workers or microbusinesses in their work, and 28% plan on doing so over the next 2-3 years.

Teaming allows independents to mimic bigger consulting firms, providing a variety of services or enabling them to take on a larger contract at a lower client cost. A team of skilled. Independents can offer an organization multiple perspectives, resources, personnel, and an overall broader range of knowledge.

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5. Lack of Predictable Income Remains a Challenge

Along with understanding why people work independently and how they like to work, it is also helpful to be aware of the challenges that come with this choice. The most frequently cited challenge for independents—49%—is lack of predicable income followed by worrying about their next job or project pipeline.

If your company can help assuage some of these fears, you may be better positioned to attract and retain the talent you want. One way to help independents maintain a consistent pipeline of work is to create talent communities. A talent community is an opt-in database or cloud-based platform where talent can proactively connect with one another and collaborate with your company. This is a group of people who have previously worked for your company or who you would like to work with in the future. As a part of aa talent community, independents can remain in close contact with hiring managers so they can transition to new projects quickly and easily.

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