Mary Meeker is sometimes called the “Internet Whisperer”. She and her team do research into the ways in which we’re using the Net, and their annual research reports are packed full of information and insights. You can see her 196 slide report here.
One of the most interesting sets of data she highlighted in this year’s report was the growing prevalence of freelance workers. This is being termed the “on demand economy” and is being fuelled by the ways in which technology allow people to do many jobs only when and where they want to, and/or when and where they are wanted. In fact, it is the ability we now have to quickly and easily match these “want to” and “wanted” employment opportunities that is the engine of this trend.
For a few months now, our team has been saying in public presentations that “by 2025, we believe at least 25% of your current staff will be freelancers.” It seems we’ve been wrong. Mary reckons that about 35% of America’s workforce is ALREADY freelancing.
FreelancersThere are obviously huge implications for employer and employee alike.
Employers need to make sure that they’re set up to connect to and attract the right level of freelancers, and have the systems in place to use them effectively. Right now, employers should be experimenting with using platforms like eLance, Freelance or Fiverr (many, many other options are available). As individuals and leaders, we should be using Uber, AirBnb and MealSharing – just so we can get a sense of what the share-economy is like and how it works.
As individuals in the job market, we need to understand that freelancing means you’re always looking for work, and always selling yourself. As a freelancer, you’re going to have to work on your profile (start a website or blog to build your profile and prove your expertise), grow your network and build up a solid body of work that proves you can deliver.
This is not an easy solution for the world’s jobs crisis, but it is a good one. The revolution is already underway. And it’s gaining momentum. Don’t be left behind.

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