The Great Betrayal: The Next Evolution of Work
First, there was the Great Resignation, then the Great Reshuffle, now there is the Great Betrayal…
And it’s more important than any of the others.
The Great Betrayal refers to employees realizing that “stability and loyalty in the workplace are an illusion, and workers are better off betting on themselves and renting out their skills across multiple clients.”
And with all the layoffs in recent months, it’s easy to see why workers would come to such a conclusion.
The truth is that full-time employment as we know it is likely dead.
"The Company Man"
In the 1950s work life was very different.
For one, people worked much longer hours and likely in worse conditions due to the lack of AC, but in the biggest contrast to today, many people saw their jobs as being for life.
It wasn't uncommon for someone to proudly call themselves a "company man" or a worker who put the company above all else and would stay there until they retired.
The next 50 years saw a gradual shift away from this.
While Baby Boomers followed this pattern for the most part, Gen-Xers were much more comfortable with changing jobs.
And when Millennials joined the workforce they caused quite a ruckus for their job-hopping ways.
Today, we're experiencing the next step of that evolution.
The Fake Facade of Employment
The 2008 housing collapse and the following recession found many people out of a job.
These people had done everything right...
They went to school, got good grades, landed a good job out of college, bought a house, etc.
And then it was ripped out from under them.
They began wondering if they had missed something along the way.
Coincidentally, a year earlier in 2007, Tim Ferriss published The 4 Hour Workweek which described the life of the "New Rich", people who were able to build an online business that supported their lifestyle - a "Lifestyle Muse," and used their new location independence to travel the world.
The digital nomad movement, as we know it, was born.
Through the quickly developing digital economy entrepreneurship seemed like something that was accessible to all.
People started eCommerce stores, built blogs, and even more people built an income by freelancing or forming small boutique agencies.
In this new "profession" they found a level of reliability they never had at their previous corporate job.
Sure, the pay wasn't steady and could ebb and flow, and it could be stressful being completely responsible for your income, but at the end of the day, it was completely in your control.
There was no one to lay you off.
Welcome to The Mature Digital Economy
Over the last 10 years, we have seen the digital economy go from a toddler to a full-fledged adult.
This year Upwork will turn 10 years old.
When Elance and oDesk joined forces in 2013 they created a juggernaut in the freelance space, and many other platforms have popped up around it. From Fiverr, Freelancer, and TopTal, to newer platforms like A.Team.
In addition, we have seen numerous businesses appear to support the growing number of freelancers in everything from health insurance and project management to education, client billing, and accounting.
The digital freelancer ecosystem is now very robust.
If a client decides to leave you it's not as big of a deal as it was 10 years ago because there could be 10 new ones waiting for you on Upwork.
If your Upwork profile isn't doing so hot then there are plenty of other platforms you can turn to to find clients including niche platforms dedicated to a specific service or industry.
More and more freelancers, like copywriter Alice Lemee, are also developing personal brands in their chosen fields on platforms like Twitter and taking control of client acquisition, and commanding higher rates due to their expertise.
To do so you don't need millions of followers, just a targeted following of 1000 true fans.
The Great Realization & The Future of Work
For many people, this year marked the first time they were laid off or were afraid of getting laid off.
"What do I do if I lose my job tomorrow?"
The thought can easily burrow in your mind and keep you up at night.
And even if you don't get laid off, you likely know someone who did and see what they're going through.
Considering this scenario it's not hard to see why so many people are experiencing The Great Realization - the only way to be financially secure is to take complete responsibility for your income and not rely on a job.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with a job. It's a great way to practice your skills in a safe environment, receive mentorship, and boost your confidence.
But I think the days of people solely relying on a job are over...
The same way we left the "company man" behind in the 50s.
Over the next 10 years, we will see the Career Portfolio gain traction - the idea that just like an investor diversifies their portfolio, you can diversify your career by freelancing, or building a side hustle in addition to working your job.
Not only is a Career Portfolio a great way to protect yourself from layoffs or anything else that may go wrong at your job, but it also lets you further your skills, and make extra income in order to invest or just deal with the rising cost of living.
A Career Portfolio lifestyle would have been extremely difficult in the past, but in today's mature digital economy, it can be surprisingly easy.
You can set up an Upwork profile and start applying for projects in less than 30 minutes. Sure, the money won't be good right away and you need to build a reputation, but the knowledge that you're financially protected is worth it.
The future of work is not in salaried 9 to 5 jobs...
But in fractional careers and freelancing. Sooner or later everyone will realize it. You are one of the fortunate few that have learned it now when it's still early.
Don't fumble your opportunity.