20/09/2013 08:03 BST | Updated 19/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Six Driving Forces to Zero Hour Contracts

Zero Hour Contracts Are Here To Stay, Here's Why

Inflexible contracts that bind employee and employer together don't work well in a fast changing world where flexibility is crucial to business success.

Recent news stories about ' Zero Hour Contracts ' demonstrate just how much the world of work is changing, and professionals who think this is a phenomenon confined to the realms of fast food and low cost direct retail, are likely to find themselves overwhelmed by a tsunami of change.

Increasingly, greater flexibility will be expected of professionals across the board, creating a new working environment, which they will either have to embrace or risk being washed away.

The good news is that many are already riding this wave successfully. Certain sectors, like creative services, have long had a history of independent working, but this is spreading further into the general economy.

Recently, online work marketplace oDesk announced that it had just hit $1 billion of brokered business between clients and freelancers, and was anticipating growth of five times that within the next half decade - and these aren't low paid, low quality jobs to be sniffed at.

Zero Hour Contracts is a genie that's not going back into the bottle, because these 6 driving forces are too strong.

  1. From desktop through to laptop and tablet, computers are everywhere, which means that as long as you have connectivity through the Internet, the office is where you are. For many that's going to be at home, and 3.6 million regularly work like this in the UK already.

  2. Online marketplaces like oDesk and Elance are already helping overcome one of the greatest problem areas for businesses - the issue of finding, vetting and hiring staff to do the work that needs doing, when it needs doing. As these marketplaces develop, and ever more sophisticated talent exchanges come online, finding people to do work will become increasingly frictionless.

  3. With traditional contracts you're only as good as the people you have employed, but with flexible working arrangements you are as good as the people you can hire to work. Through the Internet, businesses are able to connect with independent contractors at the top of their game ... pick them up and then put them down. This means that at any one moment they can create the best virtual workforce possible for their business.

  4. In just over a decade, the 'millennial generation' who grew up in the 80s and 90s will make up a major proportion of the workforce. These are people who are supremely comfortable working with the Internet and confident embracing new technologies, so they're more likely to take to coming together online to undertake new projects.

  5. The Internet also means better opportunities for 'long tail specialists', those like yourself maybe, with specific high levels skills. In the past, there may have been no commercially viable 'local' market for you to be able to strike out on your own. Now, with global connectivity, suddenly location no longer limits your markets.

  6. The economics of flexibility can work for both employer and employee, particularly if you have niche skills that can command a premium. So, while this new way of working cuts costs for companies, contractors can earn more because firms are willing to pay a premium for the ability to pick and put down talent as they wish and still save money.

Put all of this together and in the not too distant future, whether you like it or not, you'll have to start seeing your job as a business and yourself as an entrepreneur who has to find work and then manage its delivery in a never-ending cycle of new clients and opportunities.

To do this profitably will involve the adoption of a more entrepreneurial mindset, requiring you to think like a start-up business. That's a thought that may fill you with apprehension, but approach it with the right attitude and this new world is infinitely liberating and far more rewarding than being tied to one employer.

It's an exhilarating opportunity that opens up a whole world of possibilities in which you can create the work/life balance you want, while building a high income business that rewards you, not someone else, for your innovative ideas and hard work.


Ready to explore how you can move successfully from employee to business owner even if you still have a regular job? Then start by downloading two free chapters of 'Corporate Escape: the Rise of the New Entrepreneur' here. Or join our specialist newsletter.

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