Did you know, that in 2013 around 42 million people were freelancing? Like super heroes of the work force, hiding in plain sight. Normal people by (a time that coincides with normal working hours) day and tech fuelled on demand super workers by (any other time) Night. In the distant far flung futures of 2020 freelancers could be making up 50% of the work force. But is all this hype because going freelance and independent, living off the grid like some kind of digital nomad is the “In” thing to do right now, or is there some actual evidence of sustainability here?
The fact is, as much as hipster freelancers like to claim “it’s not mainstream!” freelancing is already considered by many companies the go to place to on board talent as they need it. It’s becoming the norm so quickly, that there’s currently an online staffing boom worth around $1 billion, this alternative staffing market grew around 60% in the last 18 months and shows no signs of slowing down. Whilst this upward trend in freelancing potential continues, I do foresee a number of changes to the working landscape enabling even greater levels of freelancer potential.
Big Business, Big Pay
Until now, small to medium sized businesses and start-ups have had the lion’s share of the freelancer talent. In 2014 and beyond we start to see this trend change as more and more enterprises and even big business start to invest greater amounts of cash into the freelancer economy. For the freelancer in the wild, this can mean much bigger payoff, assuming they can live up to the higher standards expected by big business.
Mobility = Sustainable Income
For the freelancer on the go, a mobile connection to the internet is becoming a straight up necessity. With the wide spread adoption of [insert smart device of your choice here] more and more freelancers are opening themselves up to the global job market that operates 24/7, increasing client interaction and reducing downtime between projects.
Talent On Tap
As 2014 draws to a close, we start to see big business increase engagement of the freelance economy via the large scale creation of HR and procurement departments designed from the ground up with freelancers in mind. The key difference being, that these new departments will work extreme closely with compliance and legal departments, the idea being to take on as many freelancers as needed as quickly as possible… without becoming a second Microsoft, who happened to be fined $97 million for classing people as freelancers, when the IRS disagreed.
Freelance = Economic Progress?
Traditional economic logic holds, that has the economy weakens and less full time employment is available, we see people turn to freelancing to pay bills. This results in an upward trend in freelancing as full time employment nose dives. However, for the first time this isn’t happening. The economy is growing stronger (personally, I don’t see it – but that popular media tells me) and yet, the number of freelancers continues to grow. It’s open to debate if this is the first signs of the cycle breaking, or that the economy really isn’t getting any better. However I personally feel it’s clear that with change comes opportunity, and no good freelancer wastes opportunity. So while the traditional economy maybe struggling, the freelancer economy is going from strength to strength.