According to Deloitte, the future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces: "The growing adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace, and the expansion of the workforce to include both on- and off-balance-sheet talent."

With that being said, there are number related areas defining the future of work. Let's take a look at some of the facts and findings of recent studies that dive deep into who the future workforce is, and how they are going to be getting work done.


We have all heard about AI at this point, but exactly what are they referring to? According to ZDNet "AI essentially means systems that will typically demonstrate at least some of the following behaviors associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity." The stats below paint a picture of where we are with AI in the workforce and where we are likely headed.

1. Deloitte states that 37 percent of organizations have deployed AI solutions—up 270 percent from four years ago. Analysts forecast global AI spending will more than double over the next three years, topping US$79 billion by 2022.

2. Deloitte's State of the AI Enterprise also found that fifty-seven percent of the study participants predict that AI will “substantially transform” their company within the next three years and that two-thirds believe that their industry’s transformation will happen within five years.

3. Also according to Deloitte, seventy-one percent of adopters report that AI technologies have already changed their company’s job roles and necessary skills, and 82 percent believe AI will lead to moderate or substantial changes to job roles and skills over the next three years.

Knowledge Workers

Knowledge workers are those who apply thought and analysis to their work typically acquired through training and are basically most working professionals today. This includes anything from programmers and designers to lawyers and accountants. While we might think of AI displacing knowledge workers, for the foreseeable future there seems to be a more symbiotic relationship.

4. In 2012, McKinsey & Company estimated there are 230 million knowledge workers in the world.

5. The Wall Street Journal states “knowledge work occupations have been adding more jobs than any other since the 1980s — about 1.9 million per year.

6. The other categories are growing too, but only by about 100,000 to 250,000 per year.

7. Although automation will play a role in the future workforce, the future will hinge more on experts who wield smart technologies, with 78% of recent survey respondents citing that smart technologies will most significantly change the workplace by 2020.

8. World Economic Forum states that sixty-five percent of children now entering primary school will hold jobs that currently don’t exist.

9. In an analysis of 25 common skill sets today, McKinsey researchers found that between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the United States and 22% in Europe.

10.  The Bureau Of Labor And Statistics found that the need for advanced IT and programming skills is going to grow and that opportunities are outpacing available talent. There will be 1.4 million open computing jobs by 2020 but only 400,000 computer-science graduates with the skills to fill them.

The Freelance Economy

The freelance economy revolves around self-employed workers taking on specific jobs or contracts instead of becoming a full-time employee. These can be full-time freelancers, part-time gig workers taking on additional work (like an Uber driver), or anything in between. Not only are they becoming increasingly common, but many companies now rely more on freelance workers than in-house talent.

11. McKinsey & Company estimates almost 50% of the workforce are freelancers in some capacity.

12.  Over 57 million people currently freelance.

13. Workers spend more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing, up from 998 million hours in 2015.

14. The majority of workers will freelance in at least some capacity by 2027.

15. Freelancers contribute an estimated $1.4 Trillion annually in earnings to our economy.

16. From 2003 to 2013 all industry sectors experienced growth in non-employer businesses, AKA freelancers.

17. 24% of Americans report that they earn income from the digital ‘platform economy’ in the past year.

18. Nearly one-in-ten Americans have earned money in the past year using digital platforms to take on ad-hoc jobs and tasks.

19. Among traditional workers, 80% would be willing to do additional work outside of their primary job if it was available and enabled them to make more money.

The Freelancer Mindset

(the below statistics are from Upwork’s 2018 Freelancing in America Report)

The Freelancer's mindset is an important thing to gauge. Are they happy? Were they forced to be freelancers? Are workers happier when they can work on there own terms? The answers to these questions show not only who is moving into the freelance world, but the likelihood that they are staying there.

20. 72% of freelancers say they either have the amount of work that they want or more.

21. 92% of freelancers expect their work opportunities to continue to increase.

22. 90% have a positive outlook in terms of how they work both now and in the future.

23. Two-thirds of freelancers say they earn more than they did at their job with a traditional employer.

24. Of those earning a greater income as a freelancer, 81% say it took them less than a year to earn this level of income.

25. 82% of freelancers say in the past year they’ve earned as much or more compared with others doing similar work.

26. 62% of freelancers started freelancing by choice as opposed to necessity

27. 76% of freelancers are happier freelancing than they felt while working traditional jobs.

28. 78% of freelancers feel the way they work allows them to live the lifestyle they want.

29. 54% say there is no amount of money where they would definitely take a traditional job.

Workforce demographics

While workforce demographics are shifting, it isn’t only millennials contributing to the freelance economy. The number of people age 55 and older working as independent contractors, freelancers and other types of on-call workers is growing significantly as well. Let's take a look at some of the stats below.

30. Millennials will make up 75% of employee demographics by 2025

31. About 47% of millennials freelance which is more than any other demographic

32. 70 million baby boomers are set to retire over the next decade.

33. But According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time period since the turn of the century.

34. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of workers from age 55 to 64 working contract or freelance job rose from 18.8 percent in 2005 to 22.9 percent in 2017.

35. From the same report, the number of freelance workers over the age of 65 climbed from 8.5 percent to 14.1 percent.

Current Full-time Workforce Mindset

We have a little bit more of an understanding of who the workforce is made of, but how do they feel about their current application stack, collaboration, communication, and overall work environment?

36. Seventy percent of workers say that their communication volume is a challenge to getting their work done.

37. More than two-thirds of workers say they waste more than an hour at work navigating between applications.

38. 68 percent of workers toggle between applications up to 10 times an hour.

39. Workers 45+ years old still prefer email to messaging applications

40. But 25 percent of workers over 45 say they find emails to be disruptive during their workday

41. 43 percent of workers 18–44 years old prefer team messaging to email and find it the least disruptive work activity in their day.

42. According to Dell, 61% of Gen Y and 50% of 30+ workers believe the applications and tools they use in their personal lives are more effective and productive than applications sanctioned by employers.

43. A recent IDC report states 15 percent of workers use consumer applications rather than corporate sponsored tools to get work done.

44. 53% of tech-savvy workers believe it would be beneficial to have work tools more similar to their personal tools.

45. 1 in 4 workers would leave their current employer to move to a company with better technology

46. Millennials are willing to take a $7,600 pay cut on average for better “quality of life” at work, according to a Fidelity report

47. 6 in 10 millennials seek employment that offers a ‘sense of purpose’

48. 86% of millennials reporting in a 2016 Kelton Global consultancy survey said that they are willing to relocate or move around and work in multiple places.

49. Millennials spend approximately 38% of their time interacting with others during their workday.

50. 68% of millennial job seekers said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers.

So there we have it - out top 50 future of work facts defining our lives. If interested in continuing to dive into the future of work make sure to follow Snipply’s blog where we’ll be publishing a full guide for both freelancers and those looking to build a freelance team. And if interested in tools to make your world in freelancing easier, check out Snipply’s beta here.

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