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So, while I'm not going to be thinking about this between 2AM and 3AM (althought I suspect that's occasionally some of your output "space"), I think this is right.

Looking back at the semi-organized HR predictions team I worked on now five years ago - I had down: "Non-organizationally affiliated individuals and teams will proliferate to serve and meet organizations' needs". That predictiion was cued to 2025, which teaches me to automatically subtract about 5 years from any date-specific prediction I make in the future (since they're inevitably "off").

On the compensation piece, I guess maybe you wouldn't mind paying someone a little more than "market" for a couple of days (or weeks or months) work - since you'd quickly recoup that cost, on the "opportunity" costs conserved by not having that individual on staff for weeks (or months or years).

On these kinds of things I now more than ever, quickly run to my social neuroscience "dark places". I wondered about what will be lost in terms of the commitment and satisfaction derived from organizational affiliation by the individual in the future. Although maybe I feel pretty good about myself when I watch my 30-second commercial played during the Super Bowl. But how long with that good feeling last?

Right on, Jacque. As discussed in the October 2014 "HR in 2022" post, that is option #2, the small "orange" world, predicted by the massive PWC survey last year.

Government statistics don't clearly reveal the true depth of the contracting movement below the surface. It's further obscured by the growth of part-time work, now accelerated in America by the PPACA rules and local minimum wage initiatives. Independent contractor status determinations are expected to be severely tested by future FLSA regulatory disclosure tweaks, too. Folks should revisit prior discussions of "The Right to Know Act" and Wage Theft issues.

A lot of these challenges will mean job security for some of us.

Chris --- not sure companies will be as concerned about "employee engagement" with their real full-time employees under this scenario. And full-time employees may feel cowed into thinking they better "shape up" or their jobs might be turned over to a freelancer.

Jim --- not sure the employee/contractor issue will be relevant here. With lower level jobs like Uber and Taskrabbit and others where management has a lot of say in how, when and where their "contractors" do their jobs it is an issue.

But freelancers we're talking about here are SME's for the most part and management "contracts" with them because they don't know what in the heck to do to solve a problem. So they don't tell freelancers the what, how, when, etc.

I do think there will be "gray" areas where there will inevitably be some legal issues. If I were a CEO and had 100+ freelancers working at any given time I would worry about confidentiality. How on earth could you enforce it? How could you even track down the culprit?

I like one thing I saw when I just now reread the PwC article ---- the likelihood that freelancers will keep an eBay ratings chart of prior work to whip out and show potential clients.

One of the biggest worries I have is how to coordinate work --- with all sorts of freelancers doing work for multiple managers across the company. Who pulls it all together? It will take a strong management team to dedicate effort to this task --- and I don't think it will be an HR responsibility since HR doesn't have the business acumen or in-depth knowledge of operations to do it.

Not sure what responsibility Compensation have. Not sure there will be any.

Am I being pessimistic?

See what I mean? Just a whole pile of issues to think about!

Jacque - great article.

I do believe in the "worker on tap" model - as an "orange" in the PwC report, I made a choice to become one of these people 2 years ago, and never looked back ! Yes, I sometimes miss the sense of affiliation of belonging to an organisation, but I don't miss the office politics at all (nor the endless meetings), and you can always choose to work on longer contracts in order to get some of that sense of companionship / team belonging.

I don't have the answers to all the questions, but I am a member of a few of the platforms you mention, and use some other freelancers to serve my own business. Regarding legal compliance, some of the platforms mandate an annual training in ethics, NDAs to be signed with legalised e-signature etc. So I guess some effort is done there.

Regarding performance reviews, a lot of these platforms do use ratings/feedback given by clients at the end of the project. It's good practice for everyone. With the progress of gamification, I can envision that these same platforms could soon include "live" feedback features to be granted by fellow team members on the project, whether they are formal employees of the organisation, or fellow freelancers.

Regarding pay of the freelancer vs that of in-house staff... I'm tempted to say that the model often works the other way around, with the freelancer being paid less than in-house employees, especially for repetitive, less-skilled taks that can be outsourced to someone working from a lower wage country. In my experience, you have to be highly specialised, and recognised, in order to command a payment as freelancer, that would be equal or higher than what the same person would be paid for the full-time position. (I'm talking freelancer here, not "traditional consultant").

And finally, creating a platform specialised for Compensation professionals would be a great idea ! I remember reading an article a little while ago, where the author was claiming that the rise of independent workers is a bit like a return to the business models of the Middle Age where everyone (craftsmen) was independent - but they organised Guilds. Todays' online expertise/freelance platforms are maybe a technology-aided return to the creation of these Guilds, especially when the profession attempts to put in place standards of work and knowledge through certification and on-going education requirements.

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