30 November 2021

As ONS data revealed a record-breaking high of 1.1m live job vacancies in the UK in Q3, we launched our Future World of Work report at the London Stock Exchange at an exclusive event attended by leaders from fintech, tech, recruitment, consulting, media and the wider talent, policy and innovation ecosystem.

Our report examining key trends and predictions for the future of work has generated over 140 pieces of global media coverage with over 10.3m views including in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, City A.M., OnRec, Staffing Industry Analysts, Open Banking Expo and Financial IT. You can also listen to highlights from the report from our Co-founder and Co-CEO Richard Prime in his Coffee with Innovate Finance podcast episode.

The report is based on insights and data from a quantitative survey of 4,500 people – including 500 business owners – and interviews with 24 business leaders from tech, fintech, finance, recruitment and consulting. It reveals trends and predictions from a diverse range of founders, CEOs, MDs, investors, policy-makers and executives, including from ApTap, Supermums Consulting, RAMP Global, Railsbank, Teemyco, XPO, APSCo OutSource, Antler VC, Broadlight Global, Innovate Finance, IWORK, Venturi, Advanced Workplace Associates, the City of London Corporation, PeripherAi, Coconut, Worksome, Freelancer.com, Pirkx, Workplace from Meta, Tech Nation and Forbes.

Future World of Work report launch

Launch at the London Stock Exchange

We launched our report at an exclusive event at the London Stock Exchange with a host of distinguished speakers including Forbes contributor, HR thought leader and investor Jon Younger; Lotanna Ezeike, Founder and CEO of XPO; Melanie Forbes, Managing Director of APSCo OutSource; Sam O’Connor, Co-founder and CEO of Coconut; and Roland Rosevear, Enterprise Solutions – EMEA at Freelancer.com.

Watch the launch event video replay to hear insights from our thought leaders.

Key findings: hybrid working, diversity, portfolio careers and access to finance

The report identifies six key findings based on the survey data and business leaders’ insights. Here is our round-up of the key trends and predictions that you need to know.

1. Flexible working is here to stay, and companies that are inflexible will lose talent.

“The demand for flexible working was always there, but the pandemic has added a sense of urgency and speed,” said Melanie Forbes, Managing Director of APSCo OutSource.

53% of 18-34 year-olds warn that talented young people won’t be willing to join organisations that are inflexible about the way people choose to work.

“Talented people demand flexibility,” said Charlotte Ekelund, Co-founder and CEO of Teemyco.

Andrew Mawson, founder of Advanced Workplace Associates, notes: “The world of work has changed forever. Many organisations that don’t tune in to the changes will find their best people leaving in droves.”

Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, observes: “The fintech industry is well known for its agile way of working, including offering flexible working options for its employees. Covid-19 has just cemented that further. This flexibility provides respect to employees’ work, home and boundaries.

2. Freelance and contract work has accelerated as a result of the pandemic and is continuing to grow.

Jon Younger, HR thought leader, Forbes contributor and investor, said: “A majority of businesses say freelancers aid overall company productivity, feed a positive company culture and improve workforce diversity.”

55% of UK SMEs that have used freelance labour are seeing a greater proportion of their workforce becoming freelance and contract-based. Nearly half of UK adults surveyed agree freelance and contract work is a good way to dip a toe in a new career path.

Roland Rosevear, Enterprise Solutions – EMEA at Freelancer.com, said: “I predict there’s going to be a continued shift in power from the business to the talent.

3. More flexible working practices contribute to a more diverse workforce and remove geographical barriers to opportunities and talent.

Remote and hybrid working have helped to enable more people to join the workforce while accommodating individual needs such as childcare, disabilities, mental health and a better work-life balance.

“Disabled and ability-impaired people and people with other needs can now be home-based and don’t have to worry about commuting. They have a whole world of opportunities they didn’t have before,” said Julia Kermode, Founder and CEO of IWORK.

Traditional geographical boundaries have been eradicated, including cities, regions and countries, as remote knowledge-based roles are now open to a global talent pool.

4. The younger generation is driving a major shift in flexible working, portfolio careers and a values-led approach to work and life.

66% of businesses report that young people aged 18-30 have a strong desire to work flexibly. They want, and expect, to have more control over their careers. 59% of 18-34 year-olds surveyed believe that within the next 10 years, more people will have ‘portfolio careers’, holding more than one job as opposed to one role in a single organisation.

Lotanna Ezeike, Founder and CEO of XPO, said: “For young people today, the concept of what a career should look like is a lot more malleable than for any past generation. Many creators and influencers want to work but it’s important to them to own their time and retain their freedom.”

Rob Hesketh, CTO at Broadlight Global, agrees: “The value chain has changed. It used to be salary, location, proximity to home, number of hours. The pandemic has flipped this on its head. People are now looking for far greater flexibility.”


“It’s not just about money these days. Factors like remote working, flexible hours, improved holiday will all be drivers. Additionally, workplace wellbeing benefits can be key,” said Stella Smith, Co-founder and CEO of Pirkx.

5. There are challenges for businesses seeking access to finance and wanting to pay freelancers and contractors quickly.

“Companies must take responsibility for paying freelancers quickly and reliably,” said Sam O’Connor, Co-founder and CEO of Coconut.

6. Tech plays a pivotal role in supporting and financing the workplace revolution.

From recruitment and HR tech to finance and collaboration platforms and software leveraging AI and automation, tech is critical and can help free up time to focus on strategy. However, people remain at the heart of work.

“You can’t lose the human part of work. Getting the best out of a person is a very human process. It requires empathy,” said Kim Nilsson, Founder and CEO of PeripherAi.

Collaborating to build our future world of work

Richard Prime, our Co-founder and Co-CEO, said: “The pandemic has transformed the way we work and live. Companies that don’t adapt their approach to work, funding their business and paying their people will lose talent. At Sonovate, we’re proud to help design the infrastructure that will underpin this. Together we can build a more flexible, sustainable and empowering future world of work.”

Sonovate recently announced it has funded over £2bn in more than 40 countries, working with thousands of recruitment, consultancy and labour marketplace businesses from startups to enterprises, and is launching its new cloud-native, API-first funding platform in Beta.

View the full report and watch the launch event video at www.sonovate.com/future-world-of-work.