It is predicted that next year we will see more people across all age groups leaving traditional career paths in seek of a more flexible working lifestyle. Forbes.com’s Dan Schawbel believes 2015’s workplace trends will be driven by “a skills gap, workers dropping out of the corporate system, the use of automation and outsourcing and the pressure for companies to get more lean.” The steady growth of the freelance economy raises the question- what is driving the shift towards a more flexible and decentralised workforce, and is this trend here to stay?

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark seems to think so, having just led a $30 million investment round in the online freelancing marketplace Elance-oDesk. This move by the firm that backed Uber, Snapchat and Instagram suggests that the global trend away from traditional employment is no longer just a trending prediction, but a real glimpse into what the future of work will look like. Companies are also investing in virtual project management tools that aim to streamline the logistics of managing virtual teams. This has seen to the decline of the traditional onsite employer/employee relationship in favour of a new relationship based on employer and talent, and indeed the point is that the talent can be sourced from anywhere in the world.

Forbes.com’s Dan Schawbel believes millennials will continue to play a pivotal role in the global workplace trends we see next year. In 2015, millennials are set to become the largest percentage of the workforce for the first time. A generation that is vocal about their demand for a better work/life balance have naturally placed a higher value on a flexible and mobile work environment. FreelancerUnion.org noted that 79% of millennials would consider quitting their job to freelance. Fobes.com’s Gabe Miano highlighted a fundamental distinction with Millennials is that many have never held a traditional job, and will enter freelancing straight after high school.

The disruption and change brought by millennial workers is real, and Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter Group, discusses the disconnect between aging workers and this generation, and the need for leaders to strategize on how to close this generational gap as more Boomers begin to retire. We may very well see hiring talent online become normalized practice for companies, and organisations will have to find a way to connect with Millennial workers who will begin to dominate these online marketplaces.