Choice is the future of work

People are balancing flexible work which aligns with their values with the need to make money. Gigs and side hustles have resulted in an increased concern for work-life balance and mentorship, with a shift towards passion-based work motivated by personal needs and desires. Remote work and the freelance economy is driving demand for better skills credentialing and community support, with success being redefined as a balance of practicalities and purpose.

This trend originates from the report:

FORERUNNER - The Dinner Party ‘25

A new era of “work” is evolving. People are balancing desire to align values and have a broader impact with the realities of needing to make money to support their lives. Meanwhile, an increased desire for flexibility has resulted in a dearth of direction and support for many.

When participants were asked about work- related concerns, work/life balance surfaced as an important issue across the board, but making more money is still of utmost importance and concern #1 for people across all life stages and archetypes. Similarly, when asked about rationale for working, respondents primarily cited wanting to cover personal needs and/or that of a family, followed by working to make as much money as possible. Real world responsibilities appear to be dominating the anecdotal trend towards passion-based work in the immediate data, but there is still a shift in people choosing work from a different set of motivations than generations past.

People have varying preferences for structure and stability vs. flexibility and variety, especially as today’s work environment increasingly allows people to make these choices accordingly. In contrast to past generations eager to conquer the corporate ladder, the generally younger archetypes Wellbody and Maverick were slightly more likely to emphasize the importance of work/life balance — and, less surprisingly, they were also more likely to express the need for mentorship.

When it comes to finding work that allows people to explore their purpose, Maverick was especially inclined (aligned with common assumptions about Gen Z and millennials) — but so were the older archetypes, Homebody and Explorer. Alongside the shift toward remote work, the past decade brought a rise in gig workers (contract workers in the on-demand economy) and side hustlers (side-project entrepreneurs). Gig workers tend to skew older (66% are 35+) and be lower-income (53% make under $50K), whereas side hustlers are younger (52% are under 35) and higher-income (63% make over $50K).

Both gig workers and side hustlers have strong female representation— 55% and 51%, respectively — perhaps since these roles cater to women prioritizing flexibility while caring for families, particularly in light of COVID. Of the cohort of people fueling the gig worker and side-hustle economy, 30% identify as “workaholics” and 75% are adding the extra work to make more money. They also tend to be financially strapped with lower levels of financial confidence: around 50% are working to pay off loans or debt and living paycheck to paycheck.

Interestingly, gig workers and side hustlers have an above-average concern for mental health and finding deeper connections with part- ners and friends, which could be connected to having more isolated work. Of this group, 30% are concerned with their mental health and need to feel more energized, while 40% want to build deeper relation- ships with a spouse or friends, and 30% want to make new friends. Continued growth in the freelance economy and remote work means demand for better credentialing and infrastructure for monetizing skills, as well as opportunities for seeking community and mentorship.

Additionally, “prestige” is no longer objectively defined as it was before, so “success” looks different person to person, and life stage to life stage. The future of work is not a matter of remote vs. in office – it is rather about balancing practicalities with purpose, as individual definitions of purpose evolves throughout people’s lives.