Change is the only constant in life. We have often heard this phrase and understand its profound meaning well. As with all other aspects of life—whether personal or professional—the world of business is also going through a constructive change for the better.
Until recently, the global economy relied heavily on structured corporate culture and industrial setups, with workers reporting to bosses in a very formal and restricted environment. In terms of free will or flexible working hours, where one was consistently in a race to either retain one’s place on the ladder or struggle to reach that place.
The good news is that the constricted office work system has opened up to recognize and acknowledge individual skills and expertise that are creating independent paths as freelance workers and is fast becoming an unparalleled economy. The career choice of branching out as a freelancer is changing the face of the business world.
According to a study conducted by the Freelancers Union, 35% of the workforce freelanced in 2019, contributing 5% to GDP, with a projected increase in numbers in the following years, reaching 36% in 2020 and 2021.
In the two years when the pandemic was playing havoc with conventional businesses, careers, and jobs, freelance gigs were on a constant rise in the new work-from-home culture. In fact, in the past 8 years, apart from temporary workers, freelance work has increased rapidly owning the highest share of the labor force.
Given the amount of struggle and risk factors involved in working as a freelancer, the tremendous surge in demand for freelance services is a pleasant surprise. Some might also wonder why and how this gamble with one’s career is producing favorable results and why more and more people are opting for a career as a freelancer.
Let us look at some pertinent reasons for freelancing work is on the rise and why it is being proclaimed as the future of work.
A Wider Scope
Freelancing and independent contractual work are commonly thought to be areas for creative endeavors such as writing, designing, animation, and web design. But the new avatar of the freelancing world has evolved and has become more inclusive with skilled labor in entertainment, construction, human resources, exports, lifestyle, health, and many more career paths branching out as a freelance business.
A significant transition that is impacting the business world by opening doors and creating avenues for outsourcing all types of tasks to independent operators. Consider the vast array of possibilities!
The Global Community
The advent and boom of the internet and online connectivity have opened doors to possibilities around the world that were earlier unimaginable. Freelance work, primarily and exclusively being a solo act delivered from the comfort of home, has become more attractive to companies and agencies worldwide. Now they do not need to hunt for a talented and skilled workforce, nor spend large sums of money and time on advertising to fill vacancies.
Many companies, and specifically entrepreneurs, cannot afford to hire and retain service providers, thus making contracting freelancers a more viable choice.
Freelancers that work for entrepreneurs get the opportunity to expose themselves to a wider field of experience and scope for practicing their versatility. The exposure also allows freelancer to expand their network of contacts and convert it into a marketing tool. Just as the freelance arena is on the rise, so is entrepreneurship, translating into a wider reach for talent, dreams, and opportunities.
In this respect, India and the Philippines are well-established avenues for outsourcing and freelance careers. Companies and businesses have increased options to hire freelancers in India. Overseas organizations are fast becoming fertile ground for freelancers to relocate to or join the companies on a contractual basis from their home countries. For instance, Dubai and the U.A.E. are attracting professionals due to their freelancing benefits.
The freedom to do the activities you enjoy or used to dream of doing when stuck at a desk in a cubicle now has tremendous possibilities for becoming a reality - practicing your skill, getting paid for it, and traveling - all of this and more is now possible with freelance being recognized as a legitimate and valued career option.
The last decade has seen an evolution and upswing of online platforms. The inclusion of streams other than the creative stream has given rise to the sprouting of niche freelance platforms focusing on individual niche skills and expertise. One can connect with niche platforms and find prospective employers and freelance gigs, easily.
Some social media platforms help job seekers network with top technology, business, and design professionals and with similar domain companies finding mutual benefits.
Moreover, now, with the boom of apps, the number of niche professions and platforms is mushrooming fast, catering to myriad needs and expectations, thus creating jobs and careers in the post-pandemic times with global inflation, political and economic imbalance. We are living in a time where any and every professional needs a freelance professional to fulfill the need.
As we move towards a work culture of an independent workforce, previously perceived and existing impediments for a freelancer are gradually and steadily being removed. As a freelancer, you not only work at your own pace, being answerable to only yourself, but you are also a brand now.
A brand that needs to be built by highlighting its areas of expertise and determining its own service charges as per the market trend. You also get to decide when and how you want to be paid and when you want to take a break from work life, resulting in complete job satisfaction and flexibility in income generation. The majority of the freelancers are below 35 years of age, making this line primarily youth-driven.
The youth-driven economy is more prominent in Asian countries than in their western counterparts.
The best news about the freelancing world is the bridging of the salary pay gap between the genders and the near absolving of gender discrimination. The glass ceiling that is an intrinsic part of the corporate world and international businesses has no place in the world of freelancers. Skills and expertise are the bosses and the driving force in this profession, regardless of age, gender, or qualification.
In a country like India, where many families do not support the idea of women having careers or doing jobs, freelancing has come as a blessing for young girls and women, who can finally realize their dreams and need to work and become financially independent while working from home. A much-needed aspect in a patriarchal-driven society where women are entirely dependent on men and families without having any freedom to make choices or live more full and satisfying lives.
Now, both partners in a marriage can contribute financially, providing their children with better opportunities and quality of life, and young women can add to the economy and the betterment of the families and thereby the nation.
The unparalleled economy driven by freelancing is on the rise, with no signs of slowing down. In the present times and economic scenario, doing business is becoming more strife-filled, resulting in many small businesses and manufacturers shutting down during and after the pandemic lockdowns. In such a scenario, the freelancing profession is rightfully picking up pace and increasingly becoming a better career option for both women and men.
Freelancing attracts the best talents in the workspace for the freedom and independence it promises, allowing experts and the younger generation to follow their hearts by making a career out of their talents and skills and enjoying the work as per their own schedules and choice.
Popular freelance jobs create space for versatility, permitting the freelancers to practice and bring forth their multiple skill-sets and get paid for it.
A safe environment is free of workplace harassment, discriminatory pay, downsizing, and dissatisfaction with being stuck in a job you don't like. Freelancing makes this possible and as a freelancer, you are your own boss. An excellent alternative to a 9 to-5 job and spending a big part of your life in traffic jams.
As long as there is the internet, freelance careers will continue growing and evolving. It is a perfect time for business people and service providers to get involved, utilize, gain from, and invest in the prolific freelance economy. Stay relevant and remain profitable by tapping into the gig economy.