This Is How We Work Now

Beth Kempton
Beth Kempton
September 28, 2022
This Is How We Work Now

In recent years, the world of work has seen a mindset shift in how, when, where, and with whom work gets done. This shift offers increased flexibility and frees businesses, teams, and societies from limitations that have traditionally held them back.

The new rules of work include moving away from exclusively relying on full-time, in-office work to embracing hybrid workforce models that leverage remote, independent talent. These rules have proven too effective and preferred by workers to be brushed aside and now is the time to embrace the mindset that “This is how we work now.”

Our latest brand campaign reinforces our belief that work should free human potential instead of limit it and emphasizes the new ways of working that have emerged over the last few years, boldly declaring that the old rules of work are dead. The anthem film highlights the glorious now, where remote independent professionals, full-time workers, and the people who hire them live in harmony.

Check out our new video below to learn more about how we work now.

At Upwork, we’re a people-first company committed to helping client and freelancer businesses and individuals achieve their dreams. We empower organizations and workers to challenge the status quo and acknowledge that simply because the old rules made sense in the past doesn’t mean they’ll always work.

How to shed the old ways of working

While many workers have tasted the freedom of the new ways of working and are unwilling to step back into their past realities, some businesses want to dig up the old rules that no longer serve workers.

Forward-thinking business leaders recognize that the old, pre-pandemic approach to work is dead, and they’re burying its outdated rules. They also understand that, as the world around us changes, reinventing the way we work is key to unlocking human potential.

Examples of the old ways of working include:

  • Long commutes
  • Requiring individuals to be in the office and work set hours
  • Focusing on inputs rather than outcomes
  • Relying primarily on full-time, in-house team members

The old rules aren’t relevant anymore as people have adapted to remote work and more professionals are turning to independent work. Individuals expect organizations to trust them to drive business outcomes no matter where or when work gets done. They also want work to fit into their lives—rather than the other way around. This can mean taking a break during the work day to exercise or setting their own schedules to plan around family priorities, to name just a couple of examples.

During a keynote session at our recent Work Without Limits conference, Hayden Brown, President and CEO at Upwork, said, “Today's career professionals—whether they're full-time employees, whether they're freelancers—are all asking this one thing: ‘Is the company serving me? And if not, why should I serve it?’”

Related: The Grand Redesign

Support continued remote and flexible work options

One way to redefine how we work now is by implementing permanent opportunities for flexible and remote work. Nearly half of businesses plan to maintain some form of remote work over the next five years. While some business leaders might require a return to the office or remove flexible work options as a means to regain control amid talk of a recession, industry experts warn this approach doesn’t work.

According to Jim Harter—Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Wellbeing at Gallup—listening to, engaging with, and motivating workers is even more important to business success during recessions versus non-recession times.

Empowering workers to have more control over their careers by offering remote and flexible work options is beneficial to both businesses and individuals.

Some business benefits include increased team member engagement and retention, improved business performance, reduced operating costs, access to a larger talent pool, and round-the-clock coverage with distributed teams across time zones. Businesses that are open to remote work also expand their talent pool to a vast talent ocean that includes skilled independent professionals.

For workers, benefits of remote and flexible work include better work-life balance, improved job satisfaction, and decreased stress and burnout.  

As Brown said during her Work Without Limits keynote, “What we've seen in the last two-plus years is that suddenly we're democratizing control. And for business leaders, that can feel really scary, because for a long time, we, the leaders, have been in the driver’s seat.”

Brown continued, “The good news is we saw something amazing over the last two years. … When we democratized control, our teams gave us performance. They gave us results. They delivered at incredible levels in ways that we did not imagine was possible … And employees love this.“

Related: Why Remote Work Is the Strength Behind Upwork’s Social Media Team

Rethink talent sources

Another way innovative business leaders are reshaping the rules of work is by leaving behind the belief that teams need to exclusively consist of full-time, in-house team members.

Forward-thinking organizations are also increasingly tapping into the skills of independent talent to build more agile workforces and scale up and down as needed. At the same time, this enables businesses to control costs and support workers’ desires for control over their schedules.

Our 2022 Future Workforce Report found that 56% of hiring managers that engage independent professionals say they have increased use of independent talent over the past 12 months, while 66% plan to do so over the next two years.

Amid a tight, competitive labor market, the report also found that 78% of hiring managers who engage skilled independent professionals say they are confident in their ability to find the talent they need, compared to just 63% of those who don’t leverage independent talent.

Related: How Global Enterprises Are Reducing Risk Through Innovative Talent Strategies

More professionals are also turning to independent work. A recent survey of American workers from McKinsey found that 36% of employed respondents identify as independent workers—an increase from 27% in a previous version of the survey. Some advantages of working as an independent professional include increased freedom, control over compensation and earnings, location flexibility, and access to diverse clients and projects.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Freelancing: Is It Right for You?

Let’s reshape the rules of work together

Right now is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the rules of work. This means shedding the old rules that felt repressive to top talent and held businesses back, and creating a new world of work that serves and uplifts us all.

Upwork partners with leading organizations to help them build agile, world-class teams and empowers individuals to discover career-defining work. Take advantage of the opportunities available on Upwork and get inspired about how we can work now. Learn more and get started today.

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Beth Kempton
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