The only skill freelancers need for the future is adaptability

Jun 24, 2020

There has never been so much talk about the future of work. We live in an age of technological acceleration and unprecedented global events — never has so much changed in such a short time.

Technology greatly influences the way we live. Today, we can order hot food that has just been made at our favorite restaurant and have it delivered to our doorstep. We can call a private transport through an application. We can visit the doctor virtually. We can work from anywhere in the world.

And, of course, technology has greatly influenced the way we view not only work but the workspace itself. From traditional paper-cluttered offices, we migrated to open-space spaces and collaborative coworking spaces. With the coronavirus pandemic, companies that insisted that workers be on-site from 9 to 5 every day have discovered that most work can, in fact, be done remotely (sometimes better and quicker than before!)

With all this change, it is natural that more and more studies are emerging trying to understand what the work of the future will be like.

· How will we be working in a few years?

· Will we even have offices?

· Will we work every day from the same place?

A study by PwC conducted in 2017 estimated that 30% of U.K. workers are at risk of disappearing by 2030 because of automatism and technology.

Another study from the Institute For the Future in Palo Alto, also conducted in 2017, had some very interesting conclusions:

· Today’s students will have had 8–10 different jobs by the time they are 38.

· The tasks and services they will provide will be completely different from what they are studying for. It is estimated that about 85% of the jobs that today’s students will have in 2030 have not yet been invented.

· Many of them will be freelancers— it is estimated that freelancers will account for 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. In March 2019, it was estimated that freelancers already accounted for 35% of the U.S. workforce.

I don’t think these statistics about the future of work should scare us. On the contrary, I believe they should serve to raise awareness among people and organizations to increase digital literacy and invest in building less tangible, "soft" skills.

It’s essential that each of us who wants to take an active part in this world of constant and rapid change must know what digital is. Digital is the land on which we move daily as individuals, and it is urgent that we quickly (but intelligently) adapt to the changes that are happening to the way we work.

In addition to digital literacy, it is essential that we focus on developing personal skills that enable us to be fully ready for everything, even that which we can’t predict. The most important of those skills is adaptability.

Constant adaptability is what will make a worker successful no matter what the work landscape looks like. Critical thinking, understanding, and the ability to quickly accommodate the challenges ahead are all elements of adaptability.

What is needed right now — especially for young people in school, but for every single one of us — is education on social and human behavior so we will be able to analyze change, critique problems, and adapt to find solutions.

It is necessary to teach these soft skills so that we can analyze everything that happened in the past and what is happening in the present so that each one of us can be fully prepared and adapted to the future.

Even with the best work experience, with the best degrees on your resume, if you don’t evolve your knowledge, what you know today will do little or nothing for a job that can be completely different tomorrow.

We have already seen so much change in the freelance industry in the past few months. In a future that is less distant than you think, you will have to deal with the disappearance of many tasks that are part of your work today. Are you ready to react?

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Krystel Leal

Krystel is a freelance digital entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant who specializes in remote work.