Is freelancing the new full-time?
In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, freelancing was uncommon. But since the noughties hit, the sector has experienced huge growth.
More recently, freelancers have shaken off some negative stereotypes. They no longer have a reputation for sitting in their pyjamas all day. Now, many freelancers are professionals with top class educations and a depth of experience.
The rise of the freelancer
In the US between 2000 and 2014, the number of freelancers grew by 500%. Some workers freelance to supplement their income, but it’s becoming more of a full-time phenomenon with most freelancers in the US moving from project to project full-time.
By 2020, it is estimated that 50% of America’s workforce will be freelancers and contractors.
Though the US is well ahead, in Europe more people are deserting the 9-5 lifestyle to work for themselves as well.
In 2012, a study by the European Forum of Independent Professionals showed that the number of freelancers in Europe rose by 82% between 2000 and 2011. The trend proved to be most popular in Italy, Germany and the UK.
The number of freelancers around the world is expected to continue growing steadily.
So why the move toward freelancing?
More and more people are choosing to work independently for many reasons: flexibility, work-life balance, dissatisfaction with the traditional workplace.
Millennials, in particular, are driving this trend. They are comfortable with working and communicating online, so they are seeking employment to suit this.
Savvy freelancers can work on their own terms. They choose their own hourly rate, they select projects that genuinely interest them and they pick the hours they work.
Average earnings for freelancers have increased significantly too. Freelancers in the US tend to earn more than direct employees, with programmers on average getting $63-$180 more per hour.
These types of arrangements suit many employers too, particularly those in the small business sector who may not have the resources to employ someone full-time.
It also means that businesses can choose someone with a specific skillset to work on a project, though that skillset might not be needed again.
For example, in Australia, the shortage of workers with IT and programming skills has led employers online in search of freelancers who can contribute to their business.
Technology plays a part
There are now more ways than ever before to work remotely. Devices, apps and other technology let us communicate with each other from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. This has had a hand in allowing people to work remotely and flexibly.
Skype, Google Hangouts and instant messaging, as well as tools like Google Docs, allow freelancers to collaborate without setting foot in a company’s office.
The set up of platforms designed to match companies with talented freelancers has also encouraged the surge in freelancers. Long gone are the days of handing in CVs, the internet has made job searches easier and more efficient.
Websites like Freelancer, Elance, Contently, Gumtree and People Per Hour were specifically built to help freelancers find work. Previously, securing enough work was the biggest obstacle for freelancers to overcome – now it’s easier than ever.
With these platforms, there is now so much choice that freelancers can select the work that they enjoy most.
Co-working communities for freelancers
The European Commission notes that despite changing work patterns in Europe, there is still a strong fundamental human need for freelancers to belong to a community.
Freelancers and independent professionals are forming groups and associations. While co-working spaces, which create hubs of innovation that help kick start entrepreneurial ideas, have emerged to meet the needs of this growing community.
While co-working spaces, which create hubs of innovation that help kick start entrepreneurial ideas, have emerged to meet the needs of this growing community, freelancers and independent professionals are now forming their own groups and associations.
It’s not unusual for independent workers to feel isolated, but the rise of co-working spaces is changing that. They offer freelancers unprecedented support and resources, as well as the sense of community that comes from working around others.
Freelancing is becoming easier and the benefits are vast and wide-ranging, but it can be lonely to work on your own a lot. At Glandore, our flexible office space is ideal for freelancers.
We have created a caring work environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and an enjoyable experience.
If you would like to find out more about us and how we can help your business grow, get in touch here.