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Trends in freelancing

The New Employment Dynamic - A Thought

Written by: Rohtash Mal 13/09/2012 5 minutes read
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There is a very interesting trend emerging in the management of careers in the modern economic and business context. A trend that breaks up some myths and is value creating all around.

The first thing to note is that the manner in which business is conducted is changing. There are no arguments that business models are in a flux, and are morphing at an enormous rate. Think of a business model as an amoeba, constantly form changing and responding to barriers and opportunities, real time. This obviously means that the half-life of business models, their durability and the manner in which they are being run is undergoing a rapid transformation. No longer are we surprised at businesses sometimes taking off like rockets, and neither are we disappointed as the business models take a not-so-smooth U-turn and head straight for the ground. This is understandable due to the nature of shifts in technology, and the nature of competitive forces- the moats around fortresses are shrinking!

This has a significant implication for people and on the manner in which they organize their careers. This is likewise true of the manner in which organizations while needing skills and capabilities at a certain time and place, need to adapt to these changes and adopt new practices.  To meet this new emerging reality, no longer do we believe that we need all talent in-house in order to access them.  In a somewhat dry manner think of talents and competencies not as capital assets, for example, a car, but rather as a service that is available on a pay for use basis. Equally dryly, we are seeing the emergence of a taxi model for professional services.  Furthermore, there are more specific competencies and skills which are usually required on an off-and-on basis and over time companies have configured themselves appropriately.

In a way, there is nothing new here in the ‘pay for use’ model – most professional services are modelled on this approach and doctors, accountants, lawyers have been around forever. What is new is the embrace that the corporate world is giving to this concept.

Looking at it from an individual’s point of view, we are also seeing another emerging cultural change – we are seeing that more and more,  individuals want to be in charge of their own lives and treat themselves as ‘Me.Inc’, maximizing their personal opportunities, indeed their personal business models. More and more, individuals are motivated by newness and wanting to work with different people at different times. I am personally seeing a situation where, truly, personal growth is finally being defined as the many worlds that one has inhabited over time.  For a corporate, a major advantage that this delivers from the individual is a certain 'wholeness' of perspective, harnessing disparate learnings to solve new problems. Obviously, such an approach is not for those who wish to maximize stability and minimize risks for themselves. Clearly, a megatrend seems to be emerging where the individual entrepreneur in the known world is essentially a corporation unto himself.

There was a time when companies offered lifetime employment and also took charge of the development of an individual’s career. This is no longer the case - neither possible nor indeed prevalent.  The corporate sector believes that it is no longer responsible for "managing" the skills, careers, attributes, and attitudes of individuals and therefore 'employability' becomes one’s own personal responsibility. In a fast-changing environment, the need for new skills is emerging and the business sector does not necessarily have the ability to up-skill or differently skill its employees, never mind the billions being poured into 'training'.   

Going forward I see an acceleration towards a ‘portfolio of careers’. This describes individuals who manage and juggle many tasks at a time, almost in a multi-career manner - the development of the 'career entrepreneur'.  This model creates semi-stable relationships and permits creating different revenue models (e.g., lower retainer fees but heavier upside on performance).  While it is contractual in nature, and therefore less permanent, it does offer maximization of scope basis the relationships one create and the quality of service delivery that one is able to provide. In short, I believe this develops far more objective relationships, more adult in form than the parent-child relationships than the individual has so far had with his/her employers. Not surprisingly these series of developments will obviously create markets where skills like these easily meet demands for fractionated employment.

Rohtash has spent over 33 years in the corporate sector, leading and growing large organizations in agri-business, telecom and automotive amongst other industries. He also engages with and sits on the board of several start-ups.  

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