I have written before that the workers of the future while be independent project workers. It is happening now and will do nothing but expand in the future.
Futurist Thomas Frey wrote a very interesting piece called Business Colonies: A study of structure, organization, and the evolution of work. Frey’s premise is that the structure of business in the future will revolve around centers that match talent and skills to pending projects. He describes these as business colonies. As he says “The operation will revolve around some combination of resident people based in a physical facility and a non-resident virtual workforce. Some will forgo the cost of the physical facility completely, opting instead to form around an entirely virtual communications structure.” Frey feels these will organize around topical areas or may be organized by larger companies as a way to employee people on a temporary basis and avoid the costs associated with having an “employee.”
One to the requirements of this new world of work will be that everyone will need to be an independent business. Average Joe, LLC will be prepared to meet the government requirements of independent contractors. In essence this is the temporary agency taken to a different level. No longer will temp agencies have employees that get placed in a company in hopes of getting transitioned to the company’s labor force, rather they will have a talent pool of independent contractors ready to take on assignments in their specialty area.
Business colony manager
In another article, 55 Jobs of the future, Frey listed business colony manager as a future job to yet be created. This business model and this job are not too far off in the future. By 2020 75% of the workforce will be millennials who are already predisposed to work by projects. They are not as interested in the work model they have seen their parents work under and will want more freedom and control in what they do. Because they will have an expertise and will rely on reputation they will be as secure as their parents and grandparents.
I think the biggest issue in seeing this will be the adoption by businesses, although many smaller businesses already are very willing to use independent contractors. The problem today is they do it only in name and don’t meet the letter or intent of the law. Business will have to be much more willing to relinquish control and contract on the basis of results.
It won’t work for all
Frey points out that this model will not work for everyone or every company. Some of the restrictions will be centered around business that are customer facing; or timing dependent, such as an assembly job; or there is a high need in the job to have institutional or cultural information; or lastly were this trade secret or accountability issues.
This model is already underway in some business segments. There is a website called Fiverr.com where you can get inexpensive graphics work done. This website is in essence an early business colony. Frey says these colonies will take on increasing importance and even someday certify independent contractors in a manner that will eliminate the need for a degree.
It is going to be an interesting world.