At Open Assembly we are constantly on the lookout for new data and analyses that outline trends in the future of work. We look at this topic from many perspectives—from workforce and worker trends to viewpoints from inside top talent communities and global businesses. To start off 2020—the new decade!—we did a deep dive into the latest data, reviewing and analyzing dozens of in-depth reports aggregating work data from across the globe to identify key trends.
How are digital disruption, technology, market forces, globalization, and consumer and worker expectations shifting business structures, the workforce, and the nature of work itself? In big, big ways. As ever, businesses following and evolving alongside these trends are gaining. Businesses who aren’t are at risk of becoming obsolete like never before. Here are a few of the major trends we saw that will affect us all in the new decade. It’s an incredible time to be watching the space and I’m glad to have a front-row seat.
HR Role Becomes Central to Change
The Institute for the Future (IFTF) estimates that 85% of the jobs that will be required in 2030 do not yet exist. Businesses are scrambling to adapt their workforce fast enough to keep up, reinventing jobs while attracting talent to fill skills gaps while up-skilling or re-skilling existing employees.
As the race for talent and skills accelerates, HR is working more closely with CEOs to ensure that their talent strategy aligns with future needs of company. They are looking strategically at open open talent models as they pivot toward relational (networked) talent strategies and away from more limited and transactional models of the past.
More and more businesses are taking steps to use or test the open talent approach—integrating freelance or contract workers, utilizing talent communities and platforms, and encouraging internal open innovation and problem-solving through cross-departmental collaboration or organization-wide “crowdsourcing” contests or challenges.
It’s exciting to watch as HR begins to view talent through a whole new lens, as networked and open ecosystems. They’re realizing that it is a radical solution to the slow pace and traditional cost of talent acquisition and worker development. Here are five trends to plan for.
Talent Takes the Driver’s Seat
The growth of open talent market is staggering. Approximately $126.3 billion was spent in the global open talent economy in 2018, including $7.8 billion in B2B. What is the open talent market? That’s money spent on contract, freelance, or on-demand talent, or talent accessed by platform- or community-based services (or TaaS, Talent as a Service).
What used to be considered the “alternative” workforce—skilled individuals who work on a contract, freelance, or gig basis—is no longer alternative. It is mainstream. Some estimate that as much as 40% of the U.S. workforce now works on a freelance or contract basis and two-thirds of Millennial and Gen Z workers have a “side hustle.”
In a recent Gallup study of U.S. workers published by the New York Times, about 64% of respondents were employed in a traditional one-to-one employee-employer arrangement. The remaining 34% held multiple jobs or had income from one or more self-employment arrangements. Platforms like UpWork, Fiverr, 99Designs, Catalant, Topcoder, Freelancer.com, Toptal, Wazoku, Mathesia and others are growing quickly.
In the B2B segment of the open talent market, demand is high for niche tech talent to fill skills gaps left by the acceleration of technology. But tech is only one of many growing segments that include marketing and creative services, operations, research and development, and product design and testing.
Work Models Change To Networks and Ecosystems
The Institute for the Future (IFTF) estimates that 85% of the jobs that will be required in 2030 do not yet exist. Most organizations are scrambling to adapt their workforce fast enough to keep up. Finding qualified talent remains a huge challenge for most orgs. Businesses list digital transformation and innovation as top priorities but many are struggling to envision and execute on these priorities quickly. Slow moving corporate structures, lack of talent or adequate access to talent, and outdated mindsets are common barriers.
So the expansion of specialized talent networks and platforms makes a lot of sense. These networks are making it easy for businesses to hire for the skills they need exactly when then need them. They’re changing the talent model from one designed to function solely within the four walls of a business to one that is permeable, flexible, and networked. A team-based model that blends internal and external talent is slowly replacing the old 20th century hierarchical business structure.
It’s not surprising that forward-looking businesses are acquiring, investing in, or developing closer relationships with these open talent communities and platforms. Staying close to top talent is a smart strategy—and it’s flexible, meaning businesses can scale as needed.
Spotlight Turns to Worker Fairness Issues
California’s controversial Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) took effect on January 1st. On-demand platforms face mounting regulatory and legal challenges from this and other laws aimed at worker classification and rights, but the challenge (and opportunity) doesn’t stop there. Everyone must contend with this huge shift in workforce structure.
Consider that nearly 80% of executives predict that contract and freelance workers will replace full-time employees in the future. Yet a vast majority of businesses haven’t considered worker issues in depth and still maintain benefits and rewards structures designed for a workforce of mostly traditional full-time employees. As open talent models grow and mature over the next decade, companies will still need strategies to keep their workforce engaged and happy, to cultivate the strong relationships that give them access to the right talent at the right time.