Online platforms that enable employers to connect with workers on a contract basis, like Expert360 and Freelancer, are a major part of the future of work in Australia, according to a CSIRO report published on Friday. The report asserts that the success of online work platforms stems from their ability to allow purchasers (employers) and providers (employees) to transact quickly, efficiently and with a clearer picture of risks and rewards when compared to traditional freelancing models. "There are strong reasons to believe the freelancer and portfolio worker will become a much more common model in tomorrow’s labour market," according to the report titled Tomorrow's Digitally Enabled Workforce.
"The era of platform economics has begun, and this new paradigm is set to reshape models of wealth generation and employment."
Not Slowing Down
According to the new report, the growth in popularity of freelancing "shows little signs of slowing", with 32 per cent of freelancers reporting an increase in demand for their services. One survey discussed in the study found that 88 per cent of people would continue freelancing even if they were offered a full-time role.
Technology Facilitating Freelancing
Traditionally, freelancing was a grueling and extraordinarily difficult employment option. While it is true that freelancing is still hard, technology is making it much easier to find work. "Freelancing has its challenges, such as lack of stable income and difficulty finding work," said the report. "But advances in technology and more globally connected environments are drastically changing these dynamics."
"It is now much easier for people to find freelance work, potentially across multiple jobs."
Reducing Core Staff
The report predicts the possibility of an increasing reliance on contingent staff in traditional workplaces of the future. Digital platforms allow companies to hire short term specialists, which can often prove to be cheaper than relying on long-term staff. The report believes this could lead to the increased attractiveness of temporary contracting over ongoing employment. "Firms may become smaller in terms of their core staff, and rely on networks of freelancers and service providers to deliver a greater proportion of their work," said the report. For businesses, increasing the number of independent workers can be hugely attractive. The CSIRO report says this attractiveness stems from the ability to rapidly change based on a business' markets (to upscale when needed) without keeping a large number of staff on their payroll.
A Questionable Comment
The CSIRO paper questions the commitment of freelance employees to the business for which they are completing a project. "A freelance workforce clearly has less invested in the ongoing success of a company which may not produce optimal results," said the report. However, this assertion is somewhat inapplicable to the contemporary independent worker. The rise of online work platforms has undoubtedly increased the accountability of modern freelancers. Most, if not all, major on-demand work platforms allow their freelancers to be rated based on the work they have done. The business of an independent consultant depends on their ability to perform during project work and achieve high-ratings. Therefore, without investment in the business, they are working for, modern independent workers will struggle to continue freelancing.
An Astute Conclusion
The CSIRO paper concludes by describing the definite rise of platform-enabled work and the major part that online software like Expert360 and Freelancer will play in the future of Australia's workforce.