Employee Engagement in 2013: The Free Agent Model

Employee Motivation

Published on Monster.com

By:  Cecily Sommers, author of Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next (Jossey-Bass, 2012)

The tech boom of the 1990s demonstrated that people with bright ideas and a good dollop of chutzpah could quickly bring funding and rock-star talent together. For those who made it to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock, there were often rich rewards. 

Suddenly, entrepreneurship was sexy and became celebrated as the “killer app” in business. The ability to discover new niches and move fast made entrepreneurship the model for the quick shifts in an increasingly global economy.

Since that time, the trends shaping business have all derived from the four core features of entrepreneurship: free agency, flexibility, business innovation, and collaboration. The changes we’ll see and experience in 2013 build on these same themes and revolve around the “free agent” worker.

Gigs, not Jobs

The free agent mindset has become so embedded in our culture that today’s workers aren’t looking for jobs, rather they’re building careers by finding ‘gigs’ that develop their skills and talents. You might think that a rocky economy would make jobs more valuable to prospective employees but, in fact, insecurity in the job market reinforces the expectation that being a go-go-gig-getter is the right approach.

Distributed Work Environments

Free agents like freedom. They want to work wherever they’ll be most productive, depending on their location, their mood, and what they have to get done. Responding to these needs is an explosion of co-working spaces around the world.

These informal environments provide everything you need to get work done -- connectivity, coffee, conference rooms, and sometimes a hammock -- with other like-minded people. Co-working spaces foster a sense of community and invite collaboration among people you might not otherwise know.

In 2013, co-working will evolve as the latest thing to become a mainstream model for businesses of all kinds.

The corporate version of co-working is called “Workplace-as-a-Service” (WAAS) and has already been adopted by a few front-runners, including Accenture, American Express, PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Glaxo-SmithKline. An effect of this trend is the rise of an entirely new WAAS industry -- consultants and designers who help companies create the conditions that serve the Free Agent mindset.

Employee Engagement in 2013

Those companies who’ve implemented WAAS in house are showing big benefits. Cost savings associated with a more efficient use of space and energy are significant, reported to be as much as 50-70%. They are also finding that the work has gotten better: less email, faster decision-making, and more creative outputs. Increased employee engagement is the real impact of this way of working.

Author Bio:

Cecily Sommers is the author of Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and founder and president of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and the non-profit sector. A global trends analyst and popular speaker, she helps organizations understand and prepare for emerging technologies, markets, and ideas. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.