Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Jumping back in time: Check out the events that led to the rise of the independent workforce! [Fridays: Mindfulness by Miles]

December 30, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Hello, everyone!

We hope you’re having a great time with your loved ones this holiday season.

We’ll be starting our 3-part series for The Business Builder Daily’s holiday campaign. In these articles, we’ll talk about the past, present, and future of the independent workforce in reference to Charles Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol.”

For today’s article, we’ll focus on the history of independent work.

Continue reading to know some past events and setups that led to the creation and growth of the independent workforce.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Mindfulness by Miles

When people talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the things they usually discuss is how it changed society’s work setup.

From doing one’s job onsite to enjoying the comfort and flexibility of remote work, individuals saw crucial reasons why some workers nowadays opt to be independent rather than traditional employees.

It cannot be denied that the pandemic made a huge influence in the field of professional work. However, it’s also important to take note that even before the health crisis, various factors have already been supporting the rise of the independent workforce.

Photo from Fast Company

The Evolution of Remote Work during the Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the Taylorist Office Layout

Remote working has become a go-to during the pandemic… but have you ever wondered when this setup actually started?

It dates a little further back than you might think.

Work had always been remote for as far back a millennium ago. Early humans never really had a specific term for it other than just it being the standard form of work. Laborers like leatherers, blacksmiths, and potters would set up their own startups in their homes. It was only until the Industrial Revolution when remote work began to evolve as an acknowledged form of laboring.

Simultaneously, it was during the 1950s when the popular “rows of desks clasped with each other” setup known as the Taylorist office became famous. This aimed to improve efficiency among non-remote workers, allowing proper communication and quick exchange of activities.

After a few years, this style became prominent in Europe before reaching the U.S. The Taylorist office and its subsequent changes has since then become the normal scheme in many traditional workplaces.

Going back to remote work…

Following the Industrial Revolution and before the days of Skype and Zoom calls, NASA engineer Jack Nilles laid the foundation for modern remote working when he coined the term, “telecommuting” in 1973.

[Telecommuting: The act of working outside an office setting through the use of technologies like phones and the Internet.]

When the Internet was invented in the early 1980s, few workers at the International Business Machines Corporations (IBM) were working from home to test the effectiveness of telecommuting. What started as a team of 5 remote workers rose to 2,000 by 1983.

It was in 2000 when the DOT Appropriations Act was enacted in the U.S. The law legitimized remote work and ordered companies to create policies about working in areas outside the usual office space. Firms that previously saw diminishing performances among their employees began considering the benefits of working remotely.

History of Pensions as Post-Retirement Funds for Full-time Employees

What was one of the core differences between working from home and working at the office?

Pensions. Ever since, more employees from established companies have benefited from pensions than remote workers.

Modern-day pensions intend to dispense income to workers who have retired from work at an older age. This system existed as far back as 63 B.C., and was originally built with the purpose of catering to retired soldiers. As such, in 1908, the Old Age Pensions Act was introduced in the U.K. to provide 5 shillings (a historical coin in the U.K.) per week to people whose ages were over 70.

It was in 1964 when one of the most groundbreaking legislations in pension history was declared in the U.S.: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA. This federal law established the proper procedure to funding, investing, and managing pensions between employers and employees. Furthermore, pensions have become more standardized for employees who want to engage in life-long loyalty to their respective companies.

This brings us to the next two subjects: Loyalty with one company and the growth of the independent workforce in the modern world.

Remember when we mentioned the old office culture in the 1950s? Before the pandemic came, the workforce industry remained like that for a long time. Tenures became milestones that could only be achieved by dedicated workers.

Through the cohesiveness and established structure of companies, people worked for a long time at just one company and retired at an older age. Firms had their own way of establishing their units, and while many teams worked well together, true success came from belonging in a cohesive team.

Then, another form of work had seen gradual dominance in the industry: Independent work. While traditional work had its perks and history, the independent workforce flourished better especially during the pandemic and would eventually do things better, according to Paul Goodman, a freelance writer for finance group ToughNickel.

Prior to the pandemic and according to data collected by GetApp’s Senior Specialist Analyst Zach Capers, the number of people involved in hybrid work escalated to 400%. Remote-first companies like Gitlab and remote-friendly ones such as Microsoft and Google were pioneers of this style.

When COVID-19 came, independent work became an even more highly sought-after form of generating income. This forced organizations to adopt this employment method more extensively.

With a growing part of the workforce making their livelihoods independently nowadays, new systems are created to provide greater stability to independent workers. Businesses are now embracing remote work not only because it is the current trend but also because it provides advantages in terms of health and safety, cost-effectiveness, increased job satisfaction and productivity, and access to in-demand talents.

As the Ghost of Christmas Past, a fictional character in Charles Dickens’ novella, “A Christmas Carol,” said:

“I told you these were shadows of the things that have been”

… being reminded of what the independents faced back in the 1900s before it innovated to what it is now is something we must not neglect.

As they establish their reputations as experts in their respective industries, openly market their services, and determine when and how they work today, we must tap into these workers to achieve our business goals and also help them grow their network as independents.

That’s a win-win situation for everyone.

We hope you learned a lot about the evolution of the independent workforce in today’s article!

Stay tuned for the next two parts of this mini-series!

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: Mindfulness by Miles”

High-performance businesses are run by people who think and act differently.

In other words, these are people who are high-performing individuals.

Companies and individuals of this kind have found ways to escape the grind of commoditization and competition by focusing on the RIGHT goals.

High-performing businesses and individuals are also “return driven” businesses and “career driven” individuals. They conscientiously develop unique capabilities and resources that allow them to deliver offerings in ways no other firm or individual can.

Every Friday, we’ll publish tips and insights from MBO Partners and The I Institute’s “The Business Builder Daily” newsletter.

These will help you gain knowledge on the things that Miles Everson, the CEO of MBO Partners, often talks about regarding the future of the workforce.

We’ll also highlight other mindfulness advice on how you can be a high-performing individual both in your career and personal life.

Hope you’ve found this week’s insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s “Mindfulness by Miles!”


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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