A new work revolution is coming… and you are not ready for it.
When I was little, my dad used to say, “If you are thinking of doing something, and you want to know if it’s good or bad, just ask yourself: what would happen if everybody in the world would do the exact same thing? If the consequences of your actions when everybody is doing it are good, then go ahead; but if they are bad, don’t do it!”
Being the online media junkie that I am, I can’t stop reading about my generation and how it’s changing the business world. Every day there’s a post about a new kid with a revolutionary app, or someone taking a gap year, or a couple of digital nomads working from a 1700’s villa in Tuscany.
Yes, my generation is sick and tired of the 9-to-5, two week vacation scheme and we are actually doing something about it. Because let’s be clear; no one, ever, liked this conspiracy, but no one ever had the guts or the resources to do something about it. There had always being rebels, but Generation Y, aid by technology, is the first one to really change the game on a global scale.
There seems to be more freelancers and entrepreneurs than ever. More and more youngsters are finding a way of making a living without actually having “a job”. Remembering my dad’s advice, I can’t help asking myself, what would happen if everyone in my generation worked as a freelancer or an entrepreneur? What would happen if there weren’t any employees anymore?
Bye bye power
Since the age of knowledge started, corporations have being losing power over the work marketplace. Knowledge and technology empowered people, and employees quickly became professionals. Certain skills became always hot and in demand, so this new type of workers has a new power to demand better job conditions and salaries.
So HR professionals –myself included- started talking about “employee loyalty programs” and artifacts like that, with one clear goal: Hide the politics, the bureaucracy and the lousy bosses, by putting some shinny perk package in front of it. Suddenly, companies started to think about employees as consumers of their brand, acknowledging the fact that a talented employees can choose where they want to work.
But a freelancer is not an employee and it’s not a consumer. A freelancer or an entrepreneur is a businessman and his own product at the same time. When you are talking with a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you are talking with a colleague, a service provider and maybe your competition.
So power is shifting once again. With more and more freelancers, entrepreneurs and independent workers, every company should stop and think, what are we going to do if the best talent doesn’t want to be our employee but our service provider?
New deals, new contracts
In the good old days the dynamic was simple. You posted a job ad, received candidates CV, interviewed a few of them and maybe hired one. Then you printed a sample contract and filled in the blanks for the name, address and ID of each new employee. Every selection process was the same and every job contract was the same.
But in an era where so few actually want to become employees, one contract to rule them all doesn’t apply anymore. Companies need to embrace one key value: flexibility.
It’s going to get messier, as you will have some freelancers working from home and coming only for meetings, some on one year contracts, some working on demand, and so on… And maybe you have this big project and you know the perfect person for the job, but when you give him a call he says “Sorry, I’m really not interested. I’m planning to live in Bali for the next three months”. But what if companies started thinking about pools of talent instead of fixed positions and network of professionals instead of fixed teams and divisions?
Bye bye corporate ladder. Hello share economy
Whenever there’s a ladder, especially a small and spiked one and you need to climb it in order to get a decent job and a decent salary, there’s going to be blood. And most definitely you are going to lose cooperation, teamwork, innovation, and all those nice words corporate people like.
As freelancers aren’t interested in anything corporate, they tend to be more open to collaboration. Don’t get me wrong, there are competitive and complex people everywhere, but once you take away the stimulus, even the most ambition driven people tend to chill a little bit.
It’s not a coincidence that more “sharing” services are booming. As Generation Y is less about having and more about experiencing, we are more open to share that experience with others. It’s not about owning a position anymore; it’s about doing a great and meaningful job with others.
Does it mean that the corporate manager is going to die? It’s unlikely, but managers will have to learn to lead this new type of workers and teams.
Hello new legislation
A silent revolution is starting.
As more people freelance and have digital jobs, where you are when you are working, it’s not important; only good Wi-Fi is. So naturally, people are going to choose the place they always dreamt of living in.
What most governments haven’t realized yet is that people are doing it already. Their people are leaving and new people are coming. For most countries this is the scariest challenge they got, so they have built a ton of legislation to try to protect themselves. But, talent will find a way. Just like in the beginning of the XX century talent migrated from Europe to America, this new vagabonding trend can’t be stop; rather it can and should be embraced.
My father is a baby boomer, who has being working for the same company for over 40 years. Still, he raised a citizen of the world, embedded with a new logic and a yearning for change. And that’s the thing no one gets. Generation Y’s logic is the consequence of watching what happened to baby boomers and Generation X. After seeing the unhappiness, the heart attacks, the global warming and the economic crisis, we are just trying to make it different. But we didn’t invent the dream; we just have the technology to live it, and it’s time for the world to get used to it.