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Welcome to the Future of Work: How your Organization can Engage with the Gig Economy

by Michael Burdick, on Jan 31, 2019

 

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By the year 2027, the majority of the United States labor market will be freelancers. With automation, machine learning, and online platforms changing the way we work, the workforce is changing with it. And it’s not only technology driving the change. As a new generation of workers begin their careers, their goals, expectations, and priorities are pointing them away from traditional roles and toward a project-based gig economy. Is your organization ready for the future of work?

What is the future of work?

For most organizations, the future of work is a shift from traditional, role-based work towards a focus on project-based work. By removing the boundaries of specific roles and responsibilities, organizations can optimize labor at the task and skill level, pairing specific skills and experts with project-based needs.

In addition, the future of work speaks not only to how we work, but what motivates us to work as we do. For accounting specifically, many young CPAs do not wish to climb the ladder at a traditional firm, instead favoring a more entrepreneurial mindset. For these young professionals—and older workers wanting to stay in the workforce longer—the flexibility of the gig economy is the perfect fit.

Lastly, the future of work is global. As teams expand across regions and countries, the effort to find top talent becomes increasingly complex. The value of human resources as a skill will become essential to fill the roles of tomorrow and understanding how to connect with gig economy workers will be an essential component of that work. By leveraging the gig economy, companies can tap into a potentially underutilized part of the workforce.

Finance and Freelancers

While there are many trends affecting the accounting and finance industry—changes in the tax code, evolving trade policy—for many accounting professionals technology is having the greatest impact. As automation and machine learning expand into the industry, the future for accountants and CPAs has never been more uncertain. But in the face of this uncertainty is opportunity for freelance finance professionals who embrace the future of work. With improved communication skills and soft skills, these freelance employees can find a key role in traditional finance firms.

Another trend driving change in finance is increasing client demand, as companies are looking for more from their accounting firms. In many cases, accounting teams have not evolved their skillset and resourcing to meet this change in demand. This is where freelance resources can set a traditional firm apart from the rest. The gig economy allows accounting and finance teams to hire the right skills at the right time, filling the gaps and properly addressing client needs.

When properly engaged, freelance finance team members can offer key benefits to your organization. Avoid employee burnout by “freelancing up” during crunch times, maintain team focus by using freelancers to tackle niche requests, and mitigate the effects of attrition by onboarding freelancers quickly. As the market for freelancers grow, the companies that know how to work with them effectively will stand out from the crowd.

How to Future-Proof your Organization

For organizations ready to begin adding freelancers to their resourcing strategy, there are a few simple steps to make it a smooth transition.

Start small

When embarking on your first freelance project, don’t start with a big initiative or a burning fire. Pick a small, non-urgent project, find a freelance partner, and begin work. By selecting small projects, organizations can experiment with different freelancers and different work styles, to find the solution that works best for your team.

Understand the technology
While technology is driving change and uncertainty in the workforce, it is also driving innovation. There are countless ways that a company can leverage technology solutions to solve hiring challenges. By understanding that freelance business models and technologies, there are many opportunities to engage with the gig economy.

Consider your organization
Before starting a freelance project, it’s important to understand your organizational culture and any obstacles to entering the gig economy. Consider starting with teams doing project-based work or already working remotely, who may be the most agile in working with non-traditional team members. Keep in mind as well that slow adoption may be the best approach—you can always ramp up your freelance operation when you’re ready.

Partnering for Success

While the future of work may seem intimidating, companies that can find ways to harness this new talent pool will be at a clear advantage. Four out of five hiring managers report an increase in the team productivity due to hiring a freelancer. These flexible workers enable the organization to get more done, allow teams to quickly and efficiently scale to meet business needs, save on time required to find skilled, local talent, and create access to a specialized skill not available in-house.

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