Freelancing · Entrepreneurship

Is ‘on-demand’ the future of today’s full-time employee?


May 21st, 2015

I read an article about the top job trends in the next 10 years. One of the first mentioned was the concept of an on-demand job. The on-demand workers are are already increasing in popularity as freelancers with short-term contracts. The best part about these workers is that they can be there when you need them, and disappear when the job is done. However, the downside is that they're gone if something goes wrong, and after their contract ends, they aren't accountable for problems caused by their work. With both the benefits and potential costs in mind, will demand for short-term contracted workers continue to increase? If so, is this something I, and others, should consider moving into long-term?

Aravind Nirmal Kumar Formally Informal

May 21st, 2015

I certainly think the demand for the short term contractors will continue to increase and grow several folds, problems and issues like you have mentioned will keep evolving and newer approaches will solve such problems. But it will not replace every other type of job, it will have its own place in the job market. But yes for sure it will continue to grow.

Chris Carruth VP/Director. Strategy | Business Development | Operations | Product | Solutions

May 21st, 2015

I think there are two issues here - will it and should it. Will it - yes, for the very basic reason it offloads cost from the company to the individual and eliminates the need to think about "what happens if this project doesn't work out, what do we do with Bob" mindset.

Should it - I don't think so. In addition to the issues already spoken of, there is the basic issue of humanity. Yes, of how humans, with responsibilities to themselves and others (like family members) will ever be financially secure enough to purchase goods that actually support the economy.

Will someone who is constantly looking for the next gig because this one runs out in x months really feel safe enough, secure enough, to buy that house, buy that car, replace those old appliances in a way that moves the GDP? There is plenty of data that suggests these types of commitments in buying large ticket items are directly impacted by how people feel about their financial security.

I completely understand the economics and risk of following the contract staffing model..but the question is should we? 

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

May 21st, 2015

One downside of temporary workers that hasn't been mentioned yet is that they lack significant experience in any given project/task. Many projects/tasks are so complex that they require years to master, and months just to get into things. Thus, a temporary worker, no matter how brilliant or educated or experienced in the field in general, will not be a viable replacement for a steady worker. So, I don't see freelancers replacing long-term employees in the main industry any time soon. Which suggests that a demand for short-term workers will peak at some point.
Another factor is that many freelancers may soon realize that being a freelancer is a crappy arrangement. Yes, it provides flexibility and a relative freedom, but it lacks stability and the perks of a steady job, and often doesn't pay that well. This suggests that eventually freelancers and the kind will become increasingly discouraged from entering these arrangements, leaving the spot for those who can't find a long-term job, which will reduce the quality of the on-demand work, and in turn discourage the employers from using short-term workers.
Another bubble burst, so to speak, much like online coupons.

However, even if I'm right, I doubt that we will go back to the steady jobs of the 20th century. More likely, the job market will evolve to a new, as of yet unfathomable state.
As an entrepreneur, I like to believe that entrepreneurship will become the dominant employment arrangement, where you work on something for a long while without being paid, and then get paid a lot all at once. If a stable startup theory emerges, startups become more predictable, and the success rate improves drastically, then such an evolution would be all but inevitable.

Then again, it could be something else entirely. Perhaps the technology will advance to a stage that human labor will no longer be required and we will be free to pursue any activity we desire without worrying about living expenses as we know them. Or, perhaps we will become slaves to our AI overlords, working without any pay whatsoever until we die of exhaustion. Who knows.