The social contractbetween employers and employees is broken. The deal used to work like this: go to school, work hard, do the work you’re given. In exchange, you’ll receive security in the form of a full-time salaried job. People have gone to school. People have worked hard. But the security isn’t there anymore.
Why did that happen?There are a lot of reasons. Outsourcing. Automation. Technological advances. Economic shifts. Working a full-time job in one location for one employer for forever is rapidly losing its place as the de facto way of approaching employment. A lot of people still behave like that’s the case, but it’s pretty clear that’s not how it works anymore.
This group represents traditional, full-time employees. At the extreme left is the 30 year veteran of one company: the quintessential employee.
This group represents peoplebuilding & running high-growth business ventures. CEOs. Founders. People who employ, or aspire to employ,the group on the other side of the bar. At the extreme right end of the spectrum is... let’s say it’s Mark Zuckerberg.
I should note that this is not drawn to scale... yet.Help me out with better numbers if you have them.
In between are people who are... somewhere in between. Contractors. Freelancers. Small business owners. People who don’t easily fall into the other two groups.
These are people who are notdependent on a single employer, nor are they dependent on investors or shareholders.
Let’s take another look at that spectrum. What haven’t we covered yet?
How about these folks in the middle? What’s their story?We don’t hear much about them in the news. Let’s break it down a little further and see what we ﬁnd.
These folks on the left side of thespectrum service the traditional employers, just in a more transient capacity. This group is growing drastically.
These folks on the right side of the group are running small and medium sized businesses.These businesses make money by providing goods and services. They don’t make billions or employ thousands, but they do make enough to employ the people they need to sustain themselves. This group is growing too.
So this whole Independentworkforce is growing. Why?
Work is increasingly done on the internet.That’s increasingly something that can be done anywhere. So things like telecommuting and contracting becomemore practical, while working full-time in one designated place becomes less necessary.
The internet happens to be a greatplace to make money building, selling, and generally doing stuff.So the line between doing business and starting abusiness is getting blurrier. Who isn’t engaging insome kind of commerce online these days, right?
These people are self-reliant. They are making money doing stuff.They are using readily available technology. That sounds like a good start!
Independent workers need not wait for an employer to hire them or an investor to back them.
That means, if you are an independent,you have the ability to CREATE value by doing the work you do.
(From what I understand, offering something of value and being compensated accordingly is sort ofhow an economy is supposed to work in the ﬁrst place.)
So when you get people to pay you for somethingthat you build or offer yourself, you happen to also be helping to strengthen the economy. That sounds pretty good!So what’s stopping more people from doing this?
The ﬁrst challenge is awareness.People aren’t used to thinking of an independent path as a viable option.
The second challenge is scariness. Working for yourself means you don’t enjoy thesupport systems you’d expect in a traditional job.It also means you’re responsible. For everything. That’s really scary.
The third challenge is support. If you want to get a job or start a growth business,there are tons of systems designed to shepherd you through the necessary processes. But to hack it on your own? Not so much.
What would happen if we started to try tackling these issues?
Maybe, just maybe, we could start creating jobs for ourselves. And each other.
In fact, it’s already begun. Newcommunities of independents are emerging everywhere. These would be perfect starting pointsfor people to gather and work on these things together. (They’re called coworking spaces.)
So we have a way of looking at work that empowers people to to create value for themselves on terms they deﬁne. We have the beginnings of a local support system. We have a decent idea of what’s holding it back.
Is it possible to inspire enoughpeople to hire themselves to put a serious dent in the job crisis?