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Temporary workers likely to make up one-fifth of workforces by 2022

  5th August 2014      
 Company News

Virtual working, employee ‘auctions’ and ad-hoc hiring amongst trends of future business

Only around one in seven workers wants to work in a ‘traditional’ nine-to-five office environment in the future, according to research from PwC.

The Future of Work report, which surveyed more than 10,000 people across China, India, Germany, the UK and the US, found that one-fifth of workers see themselves working virtually, with the ability to log on from any location within the next 10 years.

The shift in how we work will be so huge that a quarter of respondents believed that traditional working approaches and structures simply won’t be around in the future.

Faced with these changes, HR is at a “crossroads”, according to PwC, but with a proactive mindset, HR could take on a new wider people remit incorporating and influencing many other aspects of the business, or drive corporate social responsibility. However, without this mindset, it could be seen as “transactional and almost entirely outsourced”, the report predicts.

Encouragingly, PwC found that most HR professionals are prepared for these seismic changes. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) are “actively considering the evolving and multiple visions of the future” as part of their long-term business planning, while 56 per cent anticipate changes and are building possible future scenarios into their talent pipelines.

Reflecting this, HR professionals predict that at least 20 per cent of their workforce will be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022. Almost a third are building talent strategies around people’s growing desire for portfolio careers, hiring staff on a more ad-hoc basis.

According to the report, workers will begin to see themselves as members of a particular skill or professional network, rather than as an employee of a particular company, and we may even begin to see ‘eBay’ style ratings of workers as people sell themselves to companies on a project basis based on past performance.

By 2022, employers could fragment into three distinct types, suggests PwC. The ‘orange’ world, made up of smaller companies who collaborate with one another; the ‘green’ world, where companies’ agendas are dominated by corporate social responsibility; and the ‘blue’ world where already large successful organisations grow bigger.

Jon Andrews, UK HR consulting leader at PwC, said that ‘nine to five’ working could “soon become resigned to history for many workers”.

“People feel strongly that they no longer want to work within the constraints of the typical office environment and advances in technology mean that workers no longer have to be shackled to their desks.”

“We predict that many organisations will embrace these changes in employee working preferences and use them to their own advantage. We could easily see the rise of organisations that have a core team that embodies the philosophy and values of the company, but the rest of the workforce is not fixed and come in and out on a project-by-project basis,” he added.

Technology will play a huge role in achieving this aim, according to the report, as employers look to coordinate a largely external workforce and support their relationships with third parties.

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