Jobs and the Future of Work

The megatrend that will shape our working future

More than half of US workers will be freelancing by 2025, according to estimates Image: Christina Morillo

Ian Grundy
Head, Public Affairs, Asia-Pacific, The Adecco Group
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum on ASEAN

You may be a talented public relations consultant looking for new clients to build a freelancing business, or a senior manager at a multinational company, dealing with complex budgets, deadlines and a plethora of new projects. These and many other kinds of scenarios have created the opportunity for the gig economy to grow, and quickly.

Freelancing is at the core of the gig economy, allowing companies to outsource project work efficiently. It enables more individuals to prosper in an age when a job for life is no longer assured, and when more workers are seeking an entrepreneurial path.

The gig economy is one of the megatrends that will redefine the world of work. By 2025, more than half of workers in the US will be freelancing, according to estimates. More than a third of millennials are already working independently in France.

Due to economic and lifestyle changes, companies and workers need to be more flexible, as does the labour market overall. Workforce recruitment providers need to present responsible solutions that offer freelancers more stability and provide companies with the very best independent talent.

An Adecco survey on what motivates people to work flexibly

One big social challenge posed by this megatrend is how to give independent workers access to rights and benefits comparable to those enjoyed by people with an employment contract. We need to ensure that this new trend for flexibility does not come at the expense of the quality of working lives, and that companies can reap the benefits sustainably.

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There are groups of freelancers, especially in some lower-paid professions, who face a difficult existence from one task to the next, with little in the way of social protection. Others can find it hard to access bigger organizations for work, or they can end up wasting time on administrative tasks. Likewise, many companies are struggling to harness the promise of the gig economy, as it is not built into their DNA. They need to shape a culture of working in different ways and exploring creative workforce solutions.

The Adecco Group is helping firms and workers navigate the gig economy by investing in new services and digital ventures, from supporting start-ups to joining forces with tech industry leaders. With the help of Microsoft, the organization has created a digital platform called YOSS, to connect companies and freelancers. The brainchild of French entrepreneurs Guillaume Herrnberger and Romain Trébuil, YOSS has grown from an idea to reality in less than a year through the Adecco Group’s "digital start-up incubator" arm "AGX".

One thing YOSS does differently is to offer freelancers the ability to opt in to the social benefit and insurance system. YOSS gives companies a secure, fast and reliable way to adapt to more flexible procurement of specialized skill sets and expertise. The platform provides a range of “on demand” services for freelancers (including benefits such as insurance, legal and accounting advice) so they can focus on their work and maintain a balanced life.

In a world where we are becoming familiar with seeing established industries disrupted by new, creative ways of working - a trend that will likely continue - we expect the freelancing and gig economy to grow to three times the size of the temporary staffing market. Its potential is huge, and its opportunities are endless. Are you ready? Is your organization ready?

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