As of near future, 15.5 million people in the U.S. were self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—an increase of roughly 1 million since 2014. That number is expected to keep growing at a steady clip. By 2020, a separate study done by Intuit estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.
By 2020, an independent study done by Intuit estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers.
Increasingly, contractor positions are being held by the best and brightest. Harvard Business Review recently called this phenomenon “The Rise of the Supertemp.” These days, even professionals like attorneys, CMOs, and consultants with world-class training are choosing to work independently.
There are many reasons why independent work is on the rise, from shifting economic conditions to corporate downsizing and employee dissatisfaction. But 5 things have slowly fueled the trend in a much bigger way, lowering the barriers that once made independent contracting much more challenging.
NEW PLATFORMS FOR PAIRING TALENT WITH BUSINESSES
There are now more ways to work remotely than ever before, from devices, apps, and other personal technology that lets us communicate with one another from virtually everywhere. But there’s another kind of technology that plays an arguably bigger role—platforms designed to match companies with talent.
With Contently’s growing business model and technology platform are pairing brands with journalists, writers, and storytellers. Without it, many such partnerships wouldn’t have been available to either the freelancers or the companies now working with them.
BluMatter is a similar platform, designed by Ex-Gartner & Ex-Relx executives, to connect companies with talented business consultants. The community lets businesses compare consultants’ profiles to those who correspond with their needs. Where business talent can bid on projects within their invite only platform, making it a flexible option to find qualified independent business professionals for small to large enterprises.
CO-WORKING SPACES IN MAJOR CITIES
It’s not uncommon for independent workers to feel isolated. But the rise of co-working spaces in top urban centers is changing that, offering freelancers unprecedented support and resources.
Co-working spaces are providing more than just a sense of community that comes from working around others. WeWork, for instance, is one of the most popular providers of workspace for independent contractors, and it’s expanding to major cities around the world. The company has raised the bar in part by focusing on creating a collaborative ambience you’d find at any cutting-edge startup. WeWork spaces even boast arcades, fresh fruit, and beer on tap.
There are of course more traditional perks, too. More than 150 WeWork partners offer services like human resources, web consulting, and accounting help—removing some of onus on freelancers to do everything themselves. And in case you think co-working spaces are an unnecessary luxury or just a passing trend in the freelancer economy, remember that WeWork was recently valued at $10 billion.
Millennials aren’t the only ones who are craving more flexibility in their careers. While they are certainly at the forefront of the movement toward more flexibility in the workplace, other generations are calling for it as well. In fact, this one of the most widely cited reasons as to why people quit their jobs to freelance.
People want the flexibility to telecommute, work when they want, travel and not be bound by a location or time frame. This also helps them show up for things that matter – like when your kid is sick and needs to go to the doctor.
Millennials aren’t the only ones who are craving more flexibility in their careers.
The MSN report noted how, on average, self-employed individuals make at least double what their regularly employed friends make. According to a recent survey by the Freelancer’s Union, most of the respondents claimed to be making more than they did at their last desk job.
Granted, money isn’t everything. We have also met plenty of people who would gladly take a pay cut if it meant they could have more flexibility. However, the opportunity to make more money is present and people know it.
Many people cite more independence as one of the reasons they are quitting their day jobs to pursue freelancing. They don’t want to answer to a boss, have a project forced upon them or ask for permission to do simple things like go to an annual doctor’s appointment.
One of the biggest complaints we hear at BluMatter from people about their jobs was that they were stagnant and bored. There was no opportunity for growth and they felt like they were wasting away. Many of them have found what they were looking for – independence and new challenges – with freelancing.
Many people cite more independence as one of the reasons they are quitting their day jobs to pursue freelancing
THE FUTURE OF FREELANCING
Talent-matching platforms, co-working spaces, Freedom, Independence & Money are just a few leading trends behind a freelancer economy that’s growing more robust by the day. Other models and services are bound to spring up to bridge more gaps between consultants and companies in more flexible ways than ever before.
And of course, the rise of independent work isn’t just a boon to independent workers, either. It also allows businesses to find more targeted and better qualified talent to address their needs—typically at lower costs. Rather than bringing someone in full-time, with benefits and a salary, a company can hire a consultant who’s ideally suited to a particular project. And that consultant is likely to have more resources to tackle it than at any time before.
It’s worth remembering the new freelancer economy isn’t about “temp” labor. Independent workers are increasingly strategic, experienced, and professional. They want more flexibility than a traditional employee, and in many cases they’re getting it.
Talent-matching platforms, co-working spaces, Freedom, Independence & Money are just a few leading trends behind a freelancer economy that’s growing more robust by the day