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The Future of “Working as You Live”

         The world is becoming increasingly aware of the populations desire to “work as they live”.  Before the success of Elance and oDesk this meant more flexible hours and being able to occasionally work from home.  The increase in millennials entering the workforce has created a great shift for the average company.  I can attest to the fact that younger people feel the need to control all aspects of their lives, including their careers, and these companies provide a perfect opportunity for that.    

          As many of you probably know, Elance and oDesk are online platforms for hiring, managing, and paying remote freelance workers, just like an eBay for products or Ariba for business services.  A worker makes a profile and explains what their area of expertise is and then they must pass a test to verify their credibility.  Then a company or employer searches for a specific skill that they need to be completed and the platform pairs them with possible employees. Advantages:  

  • One Platform: An employer can track the work of the freelancer through screenshots sent by Elance-oDesk to ensure that the employee is on task
  • Time Saving: Eliminating steps in the traditional hiring process
  • Cost Savings: Saves money and allows for a company to only hire employees on a need basis
  • Productivity Increase: There is a specified timeline in which the employee must complete the task.

           Elance and oDesk have a huge network: A combined 8 million freelance workers and 2.5 billion business clients. Those 8 million employees are projected to pull in $930 million this year. These large players in the digital temp industry are expected to grow to $2.7 billion in 2014.

            I assume that this new-age workforce will soon become a regularity among all types of business because millennial workers have proven that they value being in control over where, when, or how they work.  This allows them to not rely on one company or person for their entire salary and benefits.  On the same point, it ensures job security because overcrowding of an office or outdated skill sets no longer pose an issue.  A freelance worker that uses Elance-oDesk said, “There is more work then you can possibly ever do out there.”

             This idea of “getting rid” of the formal full-time worker is not one that is foreign to major corporations. Google CEOs Sergey Brin and Larry Page both agree that the world is moving towards less work. In their recent joint interview they shared that people’s main reason for staying in the workforce nowadays is related to the inherent need to feel wanted or productive.  What people don’t realize is that increasingly people can achieve content lives with the things that matter the most (eg. housing, security, family, love) without having to collectively work as much. In essence, they are stating that there may not be a need for the majority of the adult population to be full-time workers.  Although that may sound idealistic, I wonder what the affect on US economy would be and how Americans would maintain their current lifestyles?

             My experience will differ from the average worker because my schooling shaped my opinion of this topic.  While in high school I was always more responsive to the teachers that gave the topic of theme of our studies and left us to complete our work in whichever way fit our needs.  When I had the flexibility to work in my preferred setting and on my own terms I was much more productive.  I am confident that the majority of the millennial population would agree with me when I say that being under our own direction helps us absorb information more effectively.

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