By Benedict Smith
Not too long ago, the minute you left school or finished university, the done thing was to go and land that ‘job-for-life’. You know the sort, a one-job-career in a company offering ‘great progression’, where you can laze around in the safety of your comfort zone, and where - after thirty years of ‘dedicated service’ - you’d get that gold Rolex for being such a loyal employee.
That you would work for one company for most of your life was pretty common, and freelancers and contractors who jumped from client to client, were this adventurous unknown breed, who dared to buck the trend and stray away from the herd.
Today, more risk for greater reward is something many of us go in search of.
Back then, a safe, secure career path was the done thing, and anyone willing to trade this in for the dangerous and potholed path synonymous with self-employment was a bit barmy.
Oh how times have changed.
Today, more risk for greater reward is something many of us go in search of. And instead of the supposed security that your ‘job-for-life’ brings, people of all ages are choosing to work for themselves, and enjoying more independence, freedom and control in their career as a result. Forget the gold Rolex, a Casio will do just fine. To many, the thought of working for yourself was once some far away dream. But not anymore.
With around 4.5 million freelancers, contractors and self-employed people in the UK, this way of working is more than just a realistic career for anyone, but in some respects, a safe one too. Well fancy that. It’s the self-employed revolution. And it’s here to stay.
Self-employment makes up 14% of Europe’s workforce. It’s the fastest growing sector of the continent’s labour market, and ever further afield, in the States, makes up around 10% of the country’s workforce. And the new way of working has left its mark on workforces far and wide. Even if you aren’t a freelancer, contractor, consultant or whatever word you’ve coined for self-employment, you’ll have no doubt worked alongside heaps of independent workers. Whether you work for a five or five-hundred-man company doesn’t matter one bit. Independent workers are vital components in businesses of all sizes. These guys are mission critical.
These days it’s about striking a balance of the right people to suit a company’s aims.
The modern workforce has evolved into an exciting melting pot of permanent, temporary, onsite and remote workers. It’s the age of the hybrid workforce. Businesses everywhere are able to reap the rewards of having a flexible team of workers with different ideas, motivations, experience and skills. Rather than building clunky, inefficient and to be frank - expensive - workforces, bosses and hiring teams have wised up. These days it’s about striking a balance of the right people to suit a company’s aims. Do this well, and they know they’re onto a winner.
Imagine a business as a Formula 1 car. Engineers and technicians handpick the best parts in the world, from whichever company they need to build a finely tuned, lean-mean, world-class vehicle capable of winning the F1 Championship. It’s exactly the same in business, just with the right combination of people instead of nuts, bolts and car parts. Thanks to technology, location and time zones aren’t barriers to business anymore either. A hybrid workforce can be made up of people from anywhere in the world. Hell, your workforce might not even ever meet each other. Imagine that, the invisible workforce.
And remember our friends, the gold Rolex receivers, the thirty-year stinters? It's bad news for them. They're flirting with extinction. Employees hanging onto the coattails of companies out of choice and because they've been there so long they're thought of as part of the furniture, usually get a pretty rude awakening.
Hybrid workforces help companies strip fat, stay lean, productive, and navigate successfully through peaks and troughs. Granted, actually building the damn thing isn’t easy, and needs careful thought. You can’t just chuck it together. Without the proper tech in place and without digital ‘get-togethers’ or meetings, you’ll have a communications breakdown on your hands. Without an open, honest company culture that embraces change, there will be resistance in the permanent employee camp. But perhaps most importantly of all, without trust and accountability at the heart of a hybrid workforce, you might as well not even bother thinking about building one in the first place.
Words by Benedict Smith, Head of Content at hubbul, the home of freelancing.