For fifteen years, I worked in what I’d term a ‘traditional office environment’. I don’t regret a second of it, and it made me the person I am today, but having recently broken free of the corporate chains by going it alone, I’ve become utterly convinced of one simple fact…
The future of business lies with the independent worker.
But before I get into that, it’s worth considering where we find ourselves now. We seem to reside in this weird netherworld that combines traditional office teams with freelancers working from home. By and large, it works, but those two crowds don’t always mix particularly well if old values are held dear.
I now reside within the latter crowd, and from where we’re standing, the former often looks rather inefficient.
For example, I was carrying out some research on the methods businesses can use to lower their carbon output, and one blog image caught my eye. It resided under the heading ‘re-assess your work commute options’ and featured a row of static cars, full of people presumably heading to or from their places of work.
I used to do this. In fact, I’d clock up thirty- to forty-thousand miles every year either heading to my desk or to customer meetings. It was, looking back, absolutely crazy.
Similarly, the number of inane meetings in which I used to sit, bored witless and wondering why we were covering point three for the eighth time nearly drove me to distraction.
There really is so much time wasted in the current world of work.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say this from the position of an independent worker, but if businesses are willing to drop their preconceptions about such people and accept that both home working and dynamic, freelancer-based teams are likely to be the route forward, we’ll all be better off in the long run.
Still need convincing? Here’s four quick-fire reasons I think the independent worker will shape the way business is done in the future:
1. It’s Incredibly Cost-Effective
Hiring staff is expensive, as is maintaining a large staff base, but if the majority of workers reside outside the payroll, businesses can vastly reduce their overheads.
Freelance or contracted work can be taken on board when required and dropped when no longer needed. Now, contrast that with an in-house team that spends just sixty percent of its time in the office every year being productive.
See what I mean?
2. Skills Can Be Hand-Picked
There are millions of independent workers out there offering a huge array of skills. Businesses that invest in such talent therefore have their pick of the bunch; they simply choose the very best of the best for a particular skill and benefit from an injection of super productivity and quality.
3. Technology Is Heading That Way
Ok, I lie; technology is already at a point where independent working can take place completely unhindered.
It’s hard to dispute the fact that the apps, devices and services we’re all starting to use on a regular basis (Dropbox, instant messaging, web-based software) are designed with independent-yet-connected working in mind, and their development roadmaps seem relentless headed down that path. Every tool I use can be used anywhere, and it’s incredibly liberating.
4. It Makes People Happier
Happy workers are productive workers, and most businesses suffer at some stage from sections of the staff base who have either become disengaged or – worse – mercenary.
The majority of independent workers have chosen that route because it makes them happy; they can work their job around their life and, as a result, their work rate and quality increases. Employ the services of happy people, and the people within the organisation will end up happier, too – it’s that simple.
I’m under no illusion – the role of the independent worker isn’t for everyone, nor does it suit every business, but it will become more prominent. It’s therefore imperative that organisations do all they can to embrace those who don’t conform to standard nine-to-fives or long office commutes.