The future of employment is here! Freelancing has emerged to be counted among the fastest growing sector across the labor market. Part of this is accredited to the evolution of the underlying gig economy. Last year, 35% of the US workforce was represented by freelancers and the same was 16.1% for the European Union. The numbers reflect a global trend that is on the rise across the world. Traditionally, gig economy and freelancing were deemed as the employment of last resort. However, people are now taking up freelance work as the first choice. Freelancing is often characterized to be emboldening, fascinating and liberating. What makes it a necessity is the advancements in technology and new age digitization.
Employers are competing with accountability, freedom, and flexibility provided by the work of gig economy and freelancing. Gig economy offers huge benefits of working remotely with autonomy and freedom. Also, the whole freelancing environment has changed considerably over the years. Now, the freelance market is crowded with professionals and experts along with suitable metrics to identify high performers who can be meaningful for an employer or business.
A UK perspective
In the UK, self-employed workers have been on the rise since the last two decades. As per the Office for National Statistics (ONS), their number has reached 4.8 million in 2017, increasing from 3.3 million in 2001. The largest number of such workers belong to the age group of 45-54 years. However, the most prominent increase has been witnessed in the age group of 65 years and above with the numbers moving from 159,000 in 2001 to 469,000 in 2016.
The freelance sector offers a huge amount of value that gets added to the economy of the United Kingdom. In 2016, the contribution of freelancers to the UK economy was pegged at £119 billion. This was £10 billion more than the previous year. In addition, the flexibility of the freelancers added £21 billion worth of value to the UK economy.
Employers are hiring freelancers for accelerating work and ensuring deadlines remain attained. However, it is not only being used as a cost-effective solution. There is a dearth of new ideas and concepts in the talent pool of 9 to 5 job. Freelancers are able to input fresh thinking into an aspect of business or a project. Irrespective of the outlook of the sector, it cannot be denied that freelancing is here to stay. Businesses expect increased growth in the sector because of the extent to which it has been able to help businesses in achieving success.
Why become one?
Taking demand out of the picture, there is still a huge supply in the freelance sector. The number of individuals interested in being a part of it is increasing exponentially. The economic landscape is observed to be everchanging with businesses seeking new ways for getting jobs done. With complex tasks and tightening budgets, it has become important for businesses to get the most time-efficient and cost-effective method to complete tasks.
Several individuals are interested in this career due to its ability to offer desired work hours. If you are looking forward to becoming a freelancer, then you can easily manage your work schedule around other commitments. You are no longer in the clutches of your bosses to take permission to leave office. It is highly valuable for a range of employees including working parents who can enjoy greater flexibility for working around the needs of children. Whatever be the stimulus, being a master of one’s schedule demands self-discipline as one can get easily distracted by irrelevant household chores.
Freelancing is being considered by youth because it offers an opportunity to follow personal interests. Do you love developing websites or have a knack for writing? You may simply be wary of the monotonous lifestyle of the corporate culture. Freelancing comes to the rescue as it offers a platform to focus on your interests with the freedom of choosing work. Not only this, but it also has become a platform where one can develop and acquire new skills. Skill development and reskilling have become highly important in this everchanging business environment. A skill of today can be rendered worthless tomorrow. It has been assisted by additional trends in automation and artificial intelligence. Thus, there is a constant need for developing new skills or sharpening existing skills in a bid to remain relevant in the business. A secured future is what everyone desires.
One of the most important reasons for the rise of freelancing is the outdated stigma attached to freelancers. Inconvenience and reliability were some of the common concerns of the freelance universe, but for a large part, they have been eliminated as major concerns. With a number of individuals entering the market, specialization was the only way to go if one wanted to stand apart from the crowd. Freelancers became professionals with years of work experience and legitimate degrees.
The businesses have come to understand the benefits of hiring freelancers. Being the experts in their fields, freelancers are able to carry out ad-hoc works in a meticulous manner. This is highly beneficial for employers who don’t have a specialized workforce or are required to shift to a new time zone; new age freelancers are the most apt hire. As they work on a project basis, there is a need for hiring employees on fixed payroll. The result is an increase in specialization and a decrease in costs.
Spending hours after hours in a cubicle is turning into a thing of the past. The amalgam of technologies has connected us on so many levels that it has blended personal and work life. The point is if people are ready to leverage the newly formed work-life balance. Now, people want to work from wherever they feel like and are interestingly fitting their work life around their lifestyles. Bringing office to one’s life or the life to the office are the trends mark the blend of personal life and work. Gig economy offers the freedom of choosing how and when to work.
Sense of Ownership
Entrepreneurship has been an indicator of the fact that sense of ownership is important for employees when it comes to employment. However, entrepreneurship is not everyone’s cup of tea as it involves several additional factors including resources and management. With a gig economy comes control over one’s employment that gives a sense of ownership as a big perk. People are excited about the accountability and ownership that comes with doing work on their terms.
To conclude, it would not be an understatement to say that freelancing is the new age of employment. And, it is only going to expand in the future. Opportunities are endless for the freelance sector. The gig economy is a phenomenon for employers as there exists a pool of untouched talent that is up for grabs. People choose a gig economy due to the appealing lifestyle it promises. The rise of freelancing is a clear indicator of what’s in store for the future of work. It is not suitable for every situation and for every business. However, with the workforce moving towards more online work and flexibility, it must be kept under consideration to be used in the form of an alternative.