Updated: Mar 4, 2019

Workplace models have changed with the times.

It isn’t new news, but it is certainly noteworthy, that the gig economy is growing. Gone are the days of industrial era workforce models; here are the days of freelance like we’ve never seen before. This on-demand labor market is already permeating a plethora of industries, and it is starting to take a firm hold on advertising.

While measures of the freelance market vary, all numbers show the huge potential of the market. According to the WSJ,

"Depending on which report you read, people working in the gig economy—alternatively called freelancers, flex workers, consultants or independent workers—will comprise 30% to 50% of the U.S. labor force by 2020.”

That translates to freelance earnings of more than $1 trillion. The freelance market is here, but why the shift? What does it mean for advertising models?


Since the industrial era, workforces were based on fixed rules and roles. There were hierarchical structures that didn’t easily adjust to supply and demand, and freelance was culturally viewed as a short-term solution while looking for work. Things have since shifted due to the influence of:


We’re in the middle of what is known as the fourth industrial revolution. This Industry 4.0 is characterized by the fusion of the Internet of Things, cyber structures, and the blurring between physical and digital. As a Field Nation study states, “Freelancers are a byproduct of this fourth revolution, taking advantage of the overwhelming interconnectedness and a world-wide on-demand culture that is exploding onto the scene and growing more prevalent, accepted, and exciting with each day that passes.”


As the structures and platforms to work independently have grown, the stigmas surrounding this type of work have decreased. Working independently and virtually are all but normalized, and the the connotation of freelancer is no longer “between jobs.” In fact, that same 2016 Field Nation Freelancer Study referenced above reported that 86% of independent contractors surveyed say they chose freelancing rather than being forced into it. Freelance is now an area comprised of the educated and skilled.


Flexibility, lifestyle, and autonomy are key to this generation, and the freelance market directly mirrors these core needs. They’re influence on the workforce can’t be understand as they forge their way to working remotely, while traveling, and using their wide-array of skills for a variety of projects at once.


The whole economy can’t be freelancers, right? Welcome the blended workforce. Blended workforces are core — more traditionally structured — teams supported by skilled contractors. These innovative teams benefit from the skills and expertise of freelancers, while the core team maintains stability and growth of the company.

Other benefits of blended workforces includes:

  • Increased collaboration

  • Freelancers selected on as needed basis

  • Reduced overhead

  • Elastic structure matching supply and demand


Large brands, including Fortune 500 companies, are taking note of this marketplace shift. A 2017 Accenture report found that 85% of the IT and Business executives surveyed have plans to increase the use of freelance workers. The report also found that Procter & Gamble is experimenting with external marketplaces, and MasterCard, Airbus, and World Bank have all been using AI-platforms to be more agile.

What does it mean for the advertising industry? We’re going to continue to see shifts: Large agencies will become more flexible to keep and tap into top talent; the emergence of smaller, core teams will occur to be more agile to meet client needs; and technological platforms will continue to evolve for efficient collaboration.

The agencies that adapt to the blended workforce most effectively and swiftly have the opportunity to produce the best results for clients and the highest satisfaction for workers.


To learn more about Secret Fort’s blended workforce and network of Makers made up of more than 250 creative freelancers, contact

Written by:

Kelsey DeMarco,

Secret Fort Account Director

  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White Facebook Icon

312.988.0685 - 1008 W. LAKE STREET SUITE 2 - CHICAGO IL, 60607 - SECRETFORT.COM

© 2019 Secret Fort