If the Intuit 2020 report is true, then 40 percent of America’s workers are expected to be contingent workers in less than seven years’ time. The Freelancer’s Union estimates that America already has 42 million independent workers, and that this number is rising — fast. Few people realize that the growth of independent workers will be in the white-collar economy, as it intersects with both the sharing economy and the project economy.
As I recently wrote in Fast Company:
“The white-collar sharing economy, complete with liberated workers and high wages, will ultimately create a system where everyone wins — both consumers and companies willing to hire white-collar independent workers who partake in the sharing economy.
The white-collar sharing economy that I envision is one that liberates office workers from the drudgery of working on projects they loathe, being forced to travel to godforsaken places that their bosses would never want to go, and not having the freedom to choose what work they do. In my opinion, if you can get work done from a beach in Hawaii as well as you could from an office in Boston, then you should be able to work from a beach in Hawaii.
In a white-collar sharing economy, how companies hire consultants will no longer be the archaic process that it is today.”
Consider what SkillBridge and other companies are doing to disrupt the pricey consulting space by advancing the project economy. To begin with, firms like Bain, McKinsey, and the Boston Consulting Group typically charge fees that start at $300 per hour for consulting services and peak at more than $1,000 per hour, and very little of that goes into the pockets of the consultants who do the work. But many firms simply cannot afford to hire these expensive firms that won’t walk through your company’s front door for less than $500,000.
Enter Skillbridge, which has created an online marketplace that enables talented consultants to operate as independent workers, allowing them to choose which projects they work on and freeing them from forking over more than 75 percent of their fees to their companies.
Such disruptions are happening in other industries, as well. For example, in the legal field, sites like UpCounsel, Rocket Lawyer, LawDingo and Priori Legal have disrupted the traditional models where lawyers charge anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per hour at their large corporate firms.
However, the consulting space has hardly changed in 150 years. The big guns have had few incentives to innovate. But the hope is that companies like SkillBridge and their success will force the management consulting giants to reevaluate their strategies.
As Micah Kaufman, Internet entrepreneur, wrote in Forbes:
“Our lives are more complicated, fluid, and longer than ever. We make multiple career changes over the course of our existences, rather than sticking it out at one company. We go back to school in our sixties and have our first kids in our forties. We’re constantly reinventing ourselves, trying to find our passions, do what we love, and lead fulfilling lives. And we need to be flexible to meet these dynamics. A set schedule where you answer to a boss for every second of the day doesn’t match reality. Parents want to make it to their kids’ dance recitals. When they’re not in class, students need to earn an income to fund their educations.”
Freedom in the workplace is the future, and that starts with a white-collar, independent workforce that is passionate about the projects they take on. This is why online marketplaces for professional talent will succeed in the future.