Many of the concepts that we are using today, such as remote working, virtual teams and distance learning were probably not part of the vocabulary about 15 years ago.

It sounds like digital development is enabling a revolutionary transformation in the way we learn, work and collaborate.

What’s fueling the change?

Devices, apps and personal technology made remote work easier than ever, except they are not the only digital aspect that is transforming talent markets. Online platforms pairing talent with business are significantly changing the way independent experts are filling their project pipelines.

HourlyNerd is one of many such platforms; designed by Harvard MBA students to connect companies with talented business consultants, allowing employers to compare expert profiles and choose the one that best fit their needs.

Online platforms allow the creation of local, nationwide, and even worldwide job markets, they allow companies to make use of wider expertise pools and associate job opportunists with a wider world of possibilities.

Trends in the self-employed market

In today’s world, many people are attracted by the flexibility of independent working models. At the same time, the challenging economic circumstances are pushing more firms to pursue on-demand experts and specialists to scale labor effectively.

Even though it is hard to track consistent and aggregated statistics about the volume of freelance and independent work being done, studies and research about the topic can give some indication.

An independent study in the US estimates that by 2020 more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.

In 2014, the Office of National Statistics in the UK indicated that 4.6 million people were self-employed accounting for 15% of the workforce, which is the highest percentage at any point in the past 40 years.

The European freelance economy increased by 45% from just under 6.2 million to 8.9 million in 2013, making them the fastest growing group in the EU labor market according to this study by Patricia Leighton, professor of European law at the IPAG Business School, France.

Harvard Business Review calls this development “The Rise of the Supertemp” explaining that even specialists like attorneys, CMOs, and consultants with world-class training are increasingly choosing to work independently.

A look at the Hollywood model

The idea of independent experts coming together to fulfill a project then going their own ways goes at least 100 years back in history, if we look at models such as Hollywood, where independent experts come together to create a movie then separate once it’s completed.

Interestingly, employment was initially casual even in the manufacturing era in the 19th century; everything was virtually outsourced. It’s wage controls, during World War II that pushed employers – that were no longer able to attract employees with higher pay – to develop benefits and pension schemes marking the beginning of the lifetime employment idea.

The modern talent market is buzzing with how chronic recessions and downsizings are going to impact the dynamics of the employer-employee relationship, given the world of opportunities enabled by digital development.

While many are focusing on internet staffing and its effect on the standard staffing model; digital transformation goes beyond that by making the marketplace more efficient and transparent, which is exactly the type of disruption that today’s workforce needs.

In this video, Ted Coiné – author of “A world gone social” – explains how he sees a future in which large, steady corporate workforces displaced by skilled teams brought together for specific projects and terms.

 

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