My work,
connected

As we all live for longer, our working lives will also extend for some of us. The traditional progress from education to work and then retirement will transform into something more fluid and flexible, and, enabled by technology, create opportunities for a ‘connected work’ market.

Based on our research and analysis, we predict that the connected work market will be worth almost US$63 billion globally by 2020, representing 35% average annual growth. This presents a huge opportunity to employers, recruiters and businesses, but will it be the innovators or changing demographics that will drive this opportunity?

One future vision sees us taking greater control over our ‘portfolio’ careers, contracting our time and talents to employers for defined projects, rather than serving as employees of a specific organisation. We’ll increasingly be members of collaborative professional networks, using online tools and forums to build a profile and connect with opportunities. Many of us (33% of our ‘connected living’ survey respondents who were currently in work) already use platforms such as LinkedIn that provide a profile to attract potential new employers and opportunities.

Technology also offers the promise of truly flexible working. Yet despite this, 63% of survey respondents choose to work from the same location and only 9% work remotely the whole time. Nearly half of the people we surveyed still stick to set hours, and switch off their connected work devices at the end of the day. The experience we get from being ‘at work’ with others still exerts a strong pull and many organisations recognise the economic case for having their people clustered in the same place. In the future, traditional office spaces may become more of a place for business communities and working groups than a full-time place to work and companies will have to be smarter in how they foster collaboration and a sense of community within teams who are working remotely.

But as the world of work becomes more connected and automated, will working patterns have to change dramatically? Some certainly believe that AI, robotics and cognitive machines will increasingly dictate the work that we do. But others place more emphasis on the power of people to determine their own work, with technology supporting, rather than controlling, what gets done and when.

The financial implications of new working patterns and employee/employer relationships are also a profound change. In a world where some may expect to live to 100, this will require a fundamental rethink about the provision and funding of pensions, for example.

Read more about the market potential for connected work here.

  • $18bn

    Professional networking sites market

  • $10bn

    Freelancing sites market

  • $24bn

    Remote Work apps market

  • $11bn

    Global web conferencing market

Did you know?

  1. 53 million people are members of the US Freelancers Union
  2. 77% of organisations reported using social networking sites to recruit potential candidates, an increase from 56% in 2011
  3. 64% of 20-35 year olds would like to work flexibly
  4. 38% of 20-35 year olds do not expect to work at one place for nine years or more
  5. The 65+ labour force in the US almost doubled between 1990 and 2010

63%

of respondents to our survey who are employed, work solely from a place of work (such as an office). #mylifeconnected

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Where is the market potential for ‘connected work’?

We developed our projections based on an ‘S-curve’, a frequent empirical observation of revenue patterns particularly observable in products and services which are consumed over technological platforms and where strong network effects play out.

Our view is that with the growth in the number of full-time and part-time remote workers, ‘telecommuting’ will soon become a natural part of life. More meetings will be held via the internet, more workers will take up employment on a freelance basis, and professional websites will match employers and workers in an ever more efficient way. All of this has been made possible as a result of widespread broadband internet adoption over the last 10 to 15 years. Some companies have moved away from setting up traditional offices towards using shared office spaces that are spread geographically, are more economical and efficient and allow remote employees to gather and work collaboratively when they need to. Freelancing platforms, such as Elance, have made flexible working easy. Helped by professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Xing, workers will become more connected to the labour market and more aware of their market worth and prospects for employment.

A wide array of remote working and communication apps enable workers to remain productive wherever they are. This includes remote access tools, messaging tools, project management tools and collaboration applications: workers today have no shortage of tools to maintain productivity and connectivity to work as remote teams. We predict that the connected work market could reach US$63 billion in 2020.

Professional websites

US$18bn2020

31%

US$2bn2014

We expect professional networking platforms like LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing to grow at an average annual rate of 40% from 2014 to 2020 to reach US$18 billion. LinkedIn has more than 300 million members but most of its growing revenue comes from a much smaller group of recruiters looking for talent. Forbes estimates the total worldwide recruiting market is over US$130 billion in software, services, content, consulting, and staff in 2012. Our analysis suggests professional networking platforms and freelancing platforms are still less than 2% of the total worldwide market.

Freelancing websites

US$10bn2020

47%

US$1bn2014

We expect freelancing websites to grow at an average annual rate of 47% from 2014 to reach US$10 billion by 2020. According to Forbes, the trend towards freelance work will continue. There are currently an estimated 53 million Americans freelancing – approximately 34% of the total workforce. This number is expected to surge to 50% by 2020.

Global web conferencing

US$11bn2020

30%

US$2bn2014

We predict that the global web conferencing market will grow at an annual rate of 30% from 2014 to 2020 to reach US$11 billion. In response to the growth in remote working, the availability of tools that facilitate group communication and collaboration has also grown sharply in the last few years. Online collaboration is particularly well-suited to solve three specific kinds of problems: time problems, distance problems and communication problems.

Remote work apps

US$24bn2020

30%

US$5bn2014

Remote work applications are platforms to allow workers to access their PC over the internet, away from a fixed place of work. We expect this sub-segment to grow at a rate of 30% from 2014 to 2020, reaching US$24 billion. A culture of flexible working across the globe will drive the growth of remote working and communication apps. According to a 2013 YouGov survey, 93% of UK employees work from home at least some of the time. Government regulations are also promoting remote and flexible working. From 30th June 2014, the UK government has given all UK workers with more than six months’ service flexible working rights.

Viewpoints on connected work

YOUTUBE

Rewarding innovation and connected work

Phillippa O'Connor discusses how the changing way we live our lives and the rapid pace of technological development will impact the way we reward our workforce.

 

PWC.BLOGS.COM / PEOPLE AGENDA

Work is not where you go, it's what you do

Phillippa O'Connor talks about the huge opportunity connected work brings for employers, recruiters and businesses.

 

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