Knowledge workers: We're on our own

Knowledge workers increasingly will be severing ties to companies and selling their services piecemeal
Stephen Baker

Face it, knowledge workers, if we're not already freelancing, we're heading in that direction. I'm typing this on a company-owned laptop, but Gartner predicts that within three years, one in 10 companies will be forcing employees to provide their own laptops. I'm surprised the number isn't higher.

Increasingly, we'll be on our own. We'll buy our own laptops, our own insurance, and we'll cut individual deals with our employers--if we still have them--giving them a finely calibrated slice of our production. Why is this happening? Companies have the data and the intelligence now to cut the jobs they need done into tiny slices, each one going to the person best equipped to handle it anywhere on the globe. It's a virtual assembly line. Companies need pieces of us, but buying the whole thing? It's like buying a Cessna or a horse: High maintaince, and easier for most to rent.

So what do we do? For starters, we blog. That way we build our individual brands, our knowledge, and our network of connections. These are going to be ever more vital assets in the years ahead. If we do a good enough job building them, companies may decide to bid for our services fulltime, even throwing in insurance and a 401K. But just like the companies, we too will have loads of information about our own value and prospects. In the ecosystem that's unfolding, one teeming with knowledge entrepreneurs, I'm betting that most of us, by choice or circumstance, are going to be running our own show.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.