The crest of the Covid redundancies wave may well be a thing of the past, but there is no denying that the impact of a pandemic on such a vast scale will be felt in the job market for years to come.
With furloughs and lay-offs spreading across the creative industry, 2020 and 2021 were two years of reconfiguration for many. Millions of professionals, who had only as much as considered the freelance life before, were now given yet one more excuse to make the change, by offering their skills on a global market to optimise the time spent at home.
Yet we should not be tricked into believing that the freelance industry was much smaller before 2020; analysts from all over the job market have been foreseeing freelancing as the future of work for years. Even before 2020, in the six years leading up to the pandemic, the number of freelance professionals had increased by at least 50%.
The “Freelance Revolution”
As with a number of other things, the pandemic was only a catalyst to accelerate change which had slowly (but surely) been building up for a number of years. Now, as workplaces start to reopen, reports suggest that a freelance revolution is underway, as millions of skilled professionals turn to freelancing as their main source of employment.
Hugely thanks to the move to remote working, people have had a taste of what it means to have more freedom over the time you spend being productive, and many have come out of the experience quite satisfied by the remote life.
The push is so powerful and predicted to touch upon enough sectors that Forbes Contributor Jon Youngeridentified a number of trends for the “Freelance Revolution” in 2021 and beyond, ranging from the future of freelance platforms to the benefits for workers on the worldwide market.
The undeniable truth of this reality is that freelancing comes with a number of benefits which may well outweigh a full-time employment contract by a great deal. Contrary to what many believed as the pandemic hit, the hiatus of work only lasted for a few months, and soon freelance demand was back, with some sectors even experiencing a 50% spike. Some others, such as hospitality, entertainment and events, have clearly struggled, but overall, freelance opportunities and revenues have grown throughout the pandemic.
And don’t get me wrong – the benefits are on both sides.
Image credit: Luciano Koenig
Benefits for Professionals
For most creatives, freelancing simply makes sense. We spend most of our time creating projects in tandem with a team or by ourselves, but nonetheless, we enjoy the moments of focus working on our own stuff, and some of us love our proverbial “bubble” to bits.
Moreover, freelancing is flexible. Especially as the wave of redundancies hit the industry, many full-time workers realised that their experience could easily be put at the service of a global market. Many took jobs and contracts in their existing sector, while others will have taken the time to re-skill and train online to enter a new field. Freelancing rarely requires any kind of degree, and sometimes you only need a track record of success to speak for you, not years of experience. So essentially, if you can do the job and you can prove it, you’re hired. This degree of flexibility, empowered and driven by the possibility to work remotely from literally anywhere, is incredibly appealing to most freelancers out there.
When you look at the earnings, it makes sense too. Freelancers usually charge much more than regular employees, with programmers able to charge up to $1,000 per hour and freelance copywriters earning around $1,000 per day. If you can provide a skill that is high enough in demand, you can make more than a decent living through freelancing, which after taxes, expenses and insurance is still much more than what an employer could make.
Plus, freelance skills will always be in demand. When we did our first Coronavirus Survey in early 2020, we found out that some freelance business had taken a bad hit; but as we moved on through the year and worked on a follow-up survey, we realised that earnings had started to come back to pre-pandemic levels, with a small percentage of freelancers stating that they could even predict an increase in their business. Freelancing is sustainable.
But perhaps the most important perk of all is that you will never stay put. Freelancers are rarely bored by their work, as they jump from one creative project to another and will not be bound by a series of repetitive tasks, or by the expectations of any single employer. Freelancers can choose who to work with, which projects to do, and if they are up for a new challenge, they can find ways to make their work meaningful. That is the true beauty of freelancing.
Image credit: Marcus Peel
Benefits for Employers
Employers willing to future-proof their business will have to come to terms with the reality that some of their workforce will have to be freelance in the near future. As more professionals turn to freelancing for the reasons stated above, employers will have to conceive new policies, strategies and ways to attract the best talent, which will now operate on a globalised job market.
Sure, freelancers can be expensive – and with good reason. They bring along a level of expertise which you can hardly find elsewhere, with high levels of experience in their field and often a track record of indisputable effectiveness. Additionally, you are in fact tapping into a globalised workforce. If you fall in love with the design of a freelancer from Mexico, who’s to say you can’t pour some budget into that idea?
Though freelancer can be expensive, you will also be recouping expenses from other parts of your business. You are not obliged to offer holiday/sick pay to a freelancer, meaning they will cost you less than a full-time employee. And you will only pay them for the duration of the project, based on their fees, during which you can rest assured that they will mostly be independent.
Freelancers are already at the top of their game. If they started a business, they know their stuff. You can trust that they will need little to minimal guidance in order to get the job done – meaning you can optimise your time by focusing on something else.
Image credit: Finger Industries Ltd
The future of work is free and globalised
It would be foolish to assume that freelancers will take over the world entirely. That is not true and in fact, perhaps not even desirable. Certainly, however, a number of creative professionals in the industry will soon realise the benefits of moving to a freelance life – from extending their opportunities onto a global market to increased earnings. Full-time employment contracts will still be around, but I can imagine that there will be an even split between employees and freelancers, perhaps even touching 50% square – something which is predicted to happen in the US market by 2027.
Surely the freelance life comes with a range of increased responsibilities, and thus requires a certain entrepreneurial spirit to be adopted effectively. That is where the difference between employees and freelancers will always lie; some creative professionals will always prefer the benefits of having an employer, from team-bonding to company benefits and the office life. Others, however, will choose to be more independent. And how could you blame them for trying?