We’re living in an exciting time work-wise where the possibilities are endless and the way we work is being transformed in innovative and life-changing ways. More people are also seeing the benefit of working for themselves and with current self-employment figures soaring, the freelance economy is making a vital contribution to the UK economy.
It’s already predicted that by 2020 that 50% of the UK workforce will be self-employed. But beyond 2020, what is on the horizon for freelance work? Will there be a time one day where everyone enjoys the freedom of being a freelancer? We look further into this question and argue both for and against this idea.
The entrepreneurial spark
Going freelance or in another sense, working for yourself requires guts. You’re putting yourself out there as a product and selling your services and to do this successfully requires drive and steely determination. The initial leap into the big world of self-employment is a big one in itself and it requires bundles of energy to keep yourself moving forward. There’s of course a bit of risk involved as well as self-employment isn’t always the most securest of employment paths. Many successful freelancers shrug off this perception and laugh. To embody all of these qualities takes someone who has a unique quality, and has an entrepreneurial spark within them. Not everyone has this unfortunately and many may not be wooed by the risk that can come with freelancing.
The influence of the gig economy
The explosion of the gig economy has redefined how we view flexible work. With the dominance of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, many workers have been empowered with the means to control their working lives and benefit from the flexibility that the gig economy can give them.
Where can the gig economy go though? Could we see more industries be disrupted to a point where many everyday things we do or like to do are associated with gig workers?
Technology is accelerating
Technology has not only enhanced the world we live in, but also empowered the people who live in it. Years ago, only a select few would have the resources and finances to make it on their own as a successful freelancer. Now in this digitally connected global age, technology has broken down borders and created exciting opportunities and unearthed new horizons that we can tap into through the few simple touches of a button. Thanks to technology, freelancing hasn’t just been made possible, it’s also been made easier.
People want to change their lives
In today’s modern work place, we’re not a nation of settlers. People want to be excited by the work they do and challenge themselves. One thing they don’t want to be is clock watchers and chained to a monotonous 9 to 5 routine. Most importantly they want control, the control to choose how they work, when they work and where they work. The importance of a balanced work life is hugely significant to modern employee moral and this freedom and flexibility that freelancing gives is encouraging more people to work self-employed and transform their lives.
Work is always changing
Freelance contractors have a huge purpose in the work world in that their unique skill-set means they can be parachuted into a company to deliver a particular piece of work and hit the ground running immediately. Work is always changing and having to respond to societal and regulatory changes and they need the flexible freelance workforce to cope with this. Rebecca Newenham, who set up virtual agency Get Ahead VA and now runs an award winning team of over 30 virtual assistants, the vast majority of which are freelancers, echoes the importance of a freelance nation to help companies remain flexible to their needs, as well as attributing to the rise of freelancing; “Our economic landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. There has been a huge increase in the number of people working freelance and self-employed. Working freelance often allows people to work more flexibly, around the needs of their households. The vast majority of my highly skilled team are freelancers. Many of them struggled to find meaningful flexible or part time employment which enabled them to use their significant skills. Working freelance allows them to work when they want and from the comfort of their own homes, without the need for 9-5 hours or the daily commute. In turn, our clients benefit from high quality services on a flexible basis that suits their needs. It’s a trend I expect to continue, particularly with the major economic challenges ahead such as Brexit. Working more flexibly enables companies to remain agile. Realistically, I think some forms of standard employment will remain, but freelancing will definitely become a much more common style of working.”
Companies still need a long term vision
As much as it is important for companies to act agile and respond to their immediate needs, they still need to think about their long term vision as well as short term. With this long term need, companies will require long-term permanent staff who can help visualise and shape this vision into reality. This type of work isn’t really suited to the freelance nation but no doubt companies will still have to rely on their help from time to time.
Could the modern workforce one day be one comprised entirely of freelancers? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of our thoughts?