The evolution of marketing teams accelerated over the past three years, led by economic uncertainty and shifts to remote work. Increasingly, the consolidated, in-house teams of the past are shapeshifting into distributed hybrid teams made of a mix of full-time employees, freelancers, agencies, and independent workers. The writing is on the wall—so here are our predictions for the marketing labor market.
Before we dig into the predictions, it’s important to understand the factors at play that are already changing the labor market.
Tenuous employee satisfaction
US CEOs ranked labor shortages as the number one external threat to their businesses in 2022. And the data agrees: Nearly one-third of all U.S. workers—about 50 million people—quit their jobs in 2021.
Deemed the great resignation, this shift was powered by evolving working conditions, such as a disparity in benefits and compensation between employers, as well as a growing desire among millennial and gen z employees for a sense of meaning in their work.
Now, due to increasingly uncertain economic conditions, there’s even talk of a “Great Regret” shared by both employers who hired employees en mass last year as well as the employees who made moves, many of whom have since become victims of layoffs.
Employers are cost conscious with murmurings of a recession continuing. This has led to rescinded job offers and, as previously mentioned, a series of layoffs in the U.S. What’s more, exiting employees are being replaced by independent workers, if they’re replaced at all.
Pressure to return to the office
Some employees are facing increasing pressure to return to the office. Many expect added pressure to return to the office after the Labor Day holiday. However, employees still want work-from-home flexibility.
Web3’s increasing popularity
When former in-office employees traded meeting rooms for Zoom calls, we saw a major advancement in the virtualization and decentralization of work. At the same time, we’re seeing a decentralization of the web take form—Web3.
Predictions for the future of marketing teams
1. More strategic staffing plans
Now that companies have improved their ability to work across multiple locations and time zones, freelance workers plug into their workflows much easier than in 2019. For example, a freelance content writer can join a short briefing Zoom without incurring transportation fees or requiring a full day of billable hours.
Marketing leaders will see an increased focus on their ability to build and develop hybrid, distributed teams as well as (or better than) they did in offices. Hybrid workforces are the future of marketing teams and we don’t just mean location.
Dynamic marketing organizations will leverage in-house, full-time employees in strategic balance with independent workers, freelancers, marketplaces, agencies, and contractors. For example, you might see a product-led marketing org or a content-first marketing org outsource its paid efforts to an agency and focus its in-house resources around product marketing and brand building.
2. AI will aid marketing productivity
Artificial intelligence will become a productivity tool for marketers and content creators. There’s lots of talk about AI replacing content creators but we don’t buy it. Instead, expect to see AI become a productivity aide for marketing teams.
For example, a marketing writer in 2025 might use AI to develop the first draft of a blog, email, or press release before adding keywords, aligning it with the brand style guide, including customer quotes or data, etc., reducing the effort and resources it takes to create great content.
3. More Web3 collaboration tools
A decentralized web lends itself well to decentralized labor, putting power in creators’ hands. Expect to communicate with top talent via blockchain communities such as Niche.Club which monetizes based on creator commerce rather than advertising. Independent workers will also start asking for crypto as a preferred payment method in years to come.
4. Independent labor will accelerate re-skilling
Expect freelancers to become a preferred method for accelerating an organization’s capabilities. Independent workers, especially those working for multiple clients or across multiple industries, have the opportunity to learn new skills at an accelerated pace.
For example, in a two-year period, a freelancer marketer might work for several clients, across more diverse industries, and on multiple channels and formats. Whereas, in that same two-year period, an in-house marketer will have worked almost exclusively for their singular brand and likely in a well-defined scope like product marketing.
58% of business leaders report that closing skill gaps within their workforces has become a higher priority since the pandemic began. But providing learning and development resources can be more costly and time-consuming than identifying a seasoned independent marketer or agency.
5. High-demand roles will shift to freelance at higher rates
Expect high-demand and high-skill roles, including senior and executive roles, to shift to freelance and consultation at a higher rate than other workers. Due to the demand, these workers will have more negotiating power to create flexibility for themselves without sacrificing compensation.
6. More platforms, fewer headhunters
Expect less interaction with third-party staffing firms and headhunters as more niche and high-quality freelance platforms and marketplaces pop up. For example, Draft makes it so easy to find and brief copywriters and content creators that any organization can scale its content needs without support from a recruiter.
The bottom line
Strong economies let businesses invest in deeply knowledgable, full-time talent. But years of economic uncertainty and accelerating business cycles require organizations of the future to be more strategic in their resourcing and hiring. If marketing leaders can’t create the right talent mix of in-house and independent workers, it may mean sacrificing the success of their marketing organization and their brand.