The Future of Work: Four Trends That Will Change the Nine to Five

Jeff Puklin

Bill Joy, the well-known computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems, once said, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” That statement sums up a competitive problem that has faced hiring managers since the first computer chip hit the market.

Talent acquisition and productivity have made a seismic shift over the last few decades. Transparency of job markets have influenced the way opportunities are posted, resumes are reviewed and hiring quotas are filled. Social networks add an additional layer of transparency and communication between employer and the talent pool. With cloud computing and the democratization of software development – a wealth of productivity apps are allowing companies to tap into large volumes of data, increasing their ability to react to the market.

While these factors and increasingly sophisticated talent platforms are impacting the way HR professionals connect people with opportunities, in the next few years, the following four trends are likely to transform the way work gets done:

Remote work will become commonplace

The line between work and personal time continues to blur as a result of mobile technologies. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping…around the fact that employees are already mobile…” While the concept of the virtual workplace is being employed at many startups, large enterprise companies such as Dell have seen the benefits of giving employees more time and autonomy. By 2020, the company aims to have 50 percent of its employees working remotely.

Contractors in the U.S. workforce will grow

Today 36% of the U.S. workforce is contingent, and it’s expected to reach 43% by 2020. As the caliber of freelance talent increases and the process for dealing with external workers improves, HR professionals will look to hire a diverse mix of people on an affordable, ad hoc basis.

The agile workforce will emerge

Aneesh Lele, portfolio director at ThoughtWorks, says: “… customer expectations, competitive threats and tighter supply chains mandate actions driven by fast, constant feedback…” Organizations are rethinking the way they respond to changes in the market. Companies are beginning to assemble nimble, fast-moving teams that can stay one step ahead of the consumer, completing work faster and more efficiently.

Millennials will envision a new model

By 2020, Millennials will account for more than half of the U.S. workforce. The generation that grew up with the internet will begin to view on-site, full-time work as antiquated. The millennial workforce will push companies to adopt new technologies, hiring models and workplace policies.

The company of the future is shaping up to look less like it does today and more like a creative network of talent. As freelance platforms continue to become widely adopted, many of these trends will begin to accelerate, empowering companies to scale external expertise and manage an agile workforce using an efficient and lower cost model.

Looking for more information on the agile workforce? We put together an interactive experience using data, text and video to help illustrate how new talent models are helping companies thrive: The Agile Workforce: Interactive Experience