insights from the future of work in marketing & advertising
June 23, 2021
This is the second annual edition of The Rosie Report and our crystal ball says it may be one of the most important we will ever publish. Of the many lessons, this past year has taught us what’s possible when our work culture is one of collective compassion.
This is a moment like we may never have again to seize a future of work that is
flexible, inclusive, and wholly human.
“Everyone is awake
but not everyone is brave.”
– Kat Gordon, The 3% Movement
People still worked. In fact, they worked harder. Innovation, creativity, and collaboration still happened. Actually it happened more. And we did it all through trauma. All the principles, policies and practices that held up the old work paradigm no longer hold up. And right on the heels of massive job losses, we find ourselves in the hottest hunt for talent anyone can recall. Employers wrote the old rule book for work. Now we’re in a whole new kind of talent market.
While organizations lag, the talent is already in a full sprint toward the future. Awakened from the American Dream and realizing just how much of it was contrived – and only for a select few.
There is a new and bold belief that we are all worthy of health, wealth, happiness, and equal treatment. And that work doesn’t have to be what it has always been.
“There’s been a recognition for a lot of people that the system actually failed them.”
– Lauren Thermos, Cut The Crap
*Racial minorities (65%) may not be as well supported as their white colleagues (75%).
Teams left “unsupervised” were as valuable as ever, proving both their competence and conscientiousness.
Pulled by the talent, we are entering the age of the autonomous worker – for all worker classifications. People now know that desirable outcomes can be achieved in absence of artificially imposed controls, and are more certain than ever that employment should not equate to time ownership nor a fixed prioritization of time and energy.
The question about returning to the office is burning, but beneath the “hybrid” drum we hear the talent saying that the answer really isn’t about where we work so much as what they’ve earned. When asked about place of work going forward, the overwhelming preference for marketers is about autonomy and trust. Essentially, the most desired rule is to not have the rules dictated by the institution.
Amidst a persisting and exacerbated burn-out epidemic, this theme of choice is a strong vibration. Choice of place is overwhelmingly the strongest, but the desire for choice of time and type of work is not insignificant.
The suggestion that work is less likely to fray us if it isn’t forced makes intuitive sense. And now marketers are armed and brave enough to make it a deciding factor in their next career choices.
Even isolating those who joined our community in the first half of 2020, this number is only slightly lower at 30%. With marketplaces making the independent path more viable, new tech and tools making the administration easier, and communities making the road less lonely, marketers are now electively beginning their careers and ending their careers as soloists. This talent will only be available to employers that adopt a flexible workforce layer.
“Every full-time job I’ve had started out as a freelance gig – and every time I regret signing on as a ‘real employee.’”
– Chris Corum, Creative Director
This skews heavily toward freelancers but still 25% of brand and agency employees report portfolio work. For many this is an income strategy. But more interestingly is the number of marketers identifying it as an antidote to burnout because it allows different “muscles” to flex, making its normalization a potential mental health strategy for employers that are open-minded enough to openly support professional pursuits beyond their own business.
“I needed an outlet away from the computer for hands on work.”
Krystal Profitt, Digital Strategist & Home Organization Entrepreneur
Marketers are increasingly adopting the philosophy that a successful career does not need to move from the bottom to the top rung of a straight ladder. They are pausing and pulsing careers, mapping work to life seasons, and embracing the idea that growth and mastery are really quite distinct from “rising through the ranks.” Employers that understand what lifestyle needs their work experience serves will attract talent in their optimal season.
“Right now I’m pursuing a career where I can work with people around the world on short-term projects.”
– Jennifer Vasquez, Project Manager
“Talent will be attracted to how they’re treated and the opportunity of what they can work on.”
– Senta Slingerland, Invisible Creatives
Pre-pandemic, finding purposeful work and passion promised to heal our work wounds. Now the awakening to just how much work was taking away from us, and a collective grappling with the question “what’s it all for?” has us racing toward something else.
For some consciously and for others subconsciously, what’s been exposed is that humanity is perhaps the more important secret ingredient to work-life fulfillment, and “anti-establishment” may no longer be such a radical stance.
Our network growth is perhaps expected evidence of the trends and the times, but the ways in which it is growing point to a significantly shifting industry landscape. The appeal of independence is spreading beyond the creative and the technical.
The newly independent and freelance curious are hailing from the big victors of the past decade. The talent that knows how to do the most in-demand work is showing signs of being done with the demands. Alongside, our project growth shows that some employers are already hip to the shift.
The one where we brought in an entire team of Black creators to launch a program entirely for Black creators.
we are rosie
We Are Rosie is a flexible talent marketplace for the modern advertising and marketing world. A thriving community of 7,000+ diverse and highly-skilled independent marketers, they help companies like Bumble, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft max their agility, resilience, inclusion, and creativity by providing curated, on-demand marketing talent.
cred & gratitude
We would like to recognize everyone across our community and beyond who contributed to this edition of The Rosie Report.
Heartfelt gratitude to: The 3% Movement, 600 & Rising, The Coca-Cola Company, Creative Spirit US, Cut The Crap, Diageo, Do The Werq, Facebook, Invisible Creatives, Mathison.io, Pymetrics, Shanty Town Design, WW
With special recognition to: Asha Atkins, Bennett Bennett, Alexis Blackwell, Tan Brown, Julia Chesky, Chris Corum, Dominique Dajer, Katherine Fairbanks, Elayne Fluker, Kate Galecki, Kat Gordon, Fernando Hernandez, Kenya Ivy, Susan Jenks, Juan de Jesus, Marie Lamonica, Flavia MacMenamin, Summer McFarlane, Kelsey Merkel, Sam Nardelli, Danielle Nitido, Graham Nolan, Frida Polli, Krystal Profitt, Sara Robinson, Laurel Rossi, Hadley Schafer, Elizabeth Seigerman, Senta Slingerland, Walton Smith, Willem Suyderhoud, Lauren Thermos, Kelsey Van Horn, Jennifer Vasquez, Holly Wasson, Arthur Woods
note from the author
Much of this report was written from a wicker chair in the morning hours in the desert, on paper, with a pen – some of it during weekends. It was peaceful, my creativity was flowing, the kids were in view. I was relaxed, productive, happy and grateful.
-Jessie Kernan, We Are Rosie