The face of the modern workplace is under constant change, with the Information Age presenting more and more choice to the ways we define ‘work’. Smart technology combined with our so-called fast food culture has ushered in the rise of the gig economy, a group which is now thought to number around 5 million in the UK alone. Ethan Lee explains further.
These workers are typically found with companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and logistics firms such as City Sprint. They make up roughly 15.5 per cent of the full and part-time UK workforce, but what’s drawing them to this style of work over traditional workplace roles?
The answer lies in the attitudes and values of the generations that have begun to take over the workforce, the millennials and centennials. These groups are seeking new ways to make a living while meeting their own desires and feeling fulfilled.
The Intelligence Group’s study of the working attitudes of Generation Y found that millennials:
- 72 per cent would like to be their own boss.
- 74 per cent want flexible work schedules.
- 88 per cent want ‘work-life integration’ – a different notion to the far more common concept of work-life balance, in that the former blends both together seamlessly.
Freelancing is an undeniably trickier way to support one’s self, due to the unpredictability of work streams and the need to source your own work and clients. Despite this, it’s a growing market for those who want it, and the benefit of the highly sought-after work-life integration is all too tempting for many.
Such is the popularity of spaces like cafés as a working space that some establishments have begun to charge for the time you spend working there. Cafés have become iconic as environments that fuel creativity and free-thinking, and with their growing presence on the high street fuelled by millennials’ increased likelihood to spend there over previous generations, it is increasingly feasible that they will become the offices of a freelancing generation in the near future.
The choice of when to begin and end a working day is an increasingly attractive prospect for the modern workforce. Despite the British obsession with soldiering on seeing 70 per cent of UK workers turning up for work even when ill, an escape from our culture of presenteeism presents many attractive benefits.
Cold and intimidating managers, long and demanding hours and inevitable drops in productivity all lead to the desire to be one’s own boss. As Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group, says: “[Millennials are] not looking to fill a slot in a faceless company, any more than a good venture capitalist is looking to toss money at a faceless startup. They’re looking strategically at opportunities to invest in a place where they can make a difference, preferably a place that itself makes a difference.”
This attitude is often branded and reduced to laziness, flightiness and unreliability, but as the job market grows more competitive and tight, being choosy is inevitably going to draw criticism. However, it is thought that Generation Y will make up a full 40 per cent of the work force by 2020. As millennials become the majority in the work place, the prevailing work philosophy will be apparent soon enough.