Nothing in life is permanent. Neither are jobs. Gone are they days of “job security” and permanent jobs. As events have unfolded over the past few days, even the chairman of India’s most respected business group realised that he doesn’t enjoy that luxury. The world of work is rapidly changing.

And as technology and innovation disrupt every aspect of our life, new business models are taking over the way work gets done. Roles and positions unheard of today will be reshaping the work landscape tomorrow. And as we move into this reshaped landscape, a new ecosystem will have to be created to facilitate and promote the “new way of work”.

Over the past few years “Independent Work” has evolved around the globe as a work-style adopted by an increasing number of professionals. In a recently published study, conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, a clear trend can be established to safely predict a change in the way work gets done.

  • In the US and the EU, independent workers make up 20% -30% of the working age population.
  • One in six professionals in traditional jobs would like to become primary independent earners.
  • 70% of the independent workers are independent by choice.
  • Independent workers report higher overall satisfaction with their work lives than traditional workers.

Closer to home, the situation is no different. With more than 15 Mn independent workers, India is second only to the US (53 Mn) in terms of count, but these professionals account for a whopping 35% – 40% of the freelance jobs offered. Contractual work is nascent in India. But this seems to be rapidly changing with many Indians giving up their insecurity and taking the plunge.

So what is changing this trend so rapidly? There are 4 key factors that are influencing this shift –

A Fast Growing Pipeline Of Professionals

It is estimated that 3.5 Mn professionals graduate out of institutions every year. Of these, 1.1 Mn are engineers and 0.3 Mn are MBAs. Undoubtedly, India is the largest skills factory in the world.

Rapid Growth Of The Startup Ecosystem

According to a study done by Assocham in association with the Thought Arbitrage Research Institute, India has now moved to the third position in terms of housing technology driven startups behind the US and UK. At last count (2015) India’s tech startups numbered 4,200. In terms of total count of startups (tech and non-tech), India featured in the Top 10 countries globally with more than 10,000 startups. Working with expert independent professionals makes great sense for these startups.

Not only is it commercially viable, but it also allows them to dig into the immense expertise of skilled professionals without taking them on the rolls of the organisation.

Internet Penetration

India has the second largest Internet user base after China. According to the “Future of Internet in India” report published by Nasscom and Akamai Technologies, India will continue to be the fastest-growing market, and the Internet user base is expected to double to 730 Mn by 2020 from the current 350 Mn (2015).

“India’s Internet consumption has already exceeded the US to become number two globally…By 2020, the Internet is expected to penetrate deeper in hinterlands of the country, helping create more opportunities for everyone,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said.

Digital Platforms As Transformation Agents

It is estimated that currently, only 15% of the independent professionals use digital platforms to find work. But it is expected that these digital platforms would eventually facilitate a far larger share of independent work. Larger scale, faster and more accurate matches from real-time information, lower entry costs and richer information services and ancillary services are the key reasons that would drive enhanced usage.

In summary, given that all the key factors are in place and working favourably, it would be safe to assume that we are likely to see a serious transformation in the way work gets done in India.

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