April 7, 2022
The world of work has been evolving for some time. A shift towards remote working, self-employment and the gig economy was rapidly accelerated due to the COVID pandemic. But why has this happened and is it likely to continue?
Research from Upwork stated that in 2021, almost 60 million Americans did some freelance work. This figure represents almost a third of the total workforce. We’re likely to see these trends continue and the future of work in 2022 will be the year of the freelancer.
We look at what this means for the workforce and organizations.
Economies around the world have been in the grip of ‘The Great Resignation’ in the aftermath of the pandemic. Substantially higher numbers of people were voluntarily resigning from their roles to either move companies, become self-employed or without another job to go to.
Potential reasons for this include:
In the early stages of the pandemic, there were many job losses, which led to a spike in the unemployment rate. This then began to reverse itself as the economy got back on track. The low unemployment rates coupled with the higher numbers of experienced professionals turning freelance has left companies with positions to fill and not enough experienced people to fill them.
The number of people moving into freelancing has increased massively over the last few years. Again, this was accelerated during the pandemic. Some people chose to freelance when their businesses folded, out of necessity. For many though, the move to remote work gave them a glimpse of how working life could be different. The typical 9-5 was looking more and more out of step with how people wanted to live their lives.
With an internet connection and a laptop, many people could do 100% of their job from home. This kind of flexibility couldn’t be found in many sectors, even with the shift towards hybrid working.
Another attraction to freelancing was the opportunity to work in a way that aligned with their values. Freelancers can choose to run their business the way they wish to and can also choose their clients based on their own morals and ethical viewpoints.
This is why many organizations are reforming their company culture in order to make them more attractive to existing and potential employees.
Cloud-based software and architecture are becoming the norm. Organizations are moving their business-critical systems online, meaning that they can be accessed from anywhere. Systems, telephony, and documents are now securely accessed online.
Once this became the accepted way of working, then it made the rise of the digital freelancer much more likely.
Businesses themselves are enabling the freelance community to thrive. Many now engage freelance professionals for a range of projects, when the demand is there. The move away from employing these people in-house has allowed many people to move into this way of working.
The overall benefits are clear. The projects are completed by talented professionals and businesses don’t have the overhead of having to recruit, train and pay in-house employees. While day rates may be considerably higher, the overall cost is much lower.
Beyond the financials, businesses are also improving how they handle working with freelancers. Rather than defaulting to trying to treat them like short-term employees, and in a sense, micromanaging them, they now work on a performance-based model.
The future of work in 2022 will continue to pivot due to the widespread use of technology and cloud computing. A freelance career is now seen as an attractive choice for many. Skilled freelancers can command excellent rates and enjoy a degree of flexibility and control that cannot be replicated in a traditional employment situation.
The way businesses are responding to this freelancing shift is another indication that this is the way forward. Not only are businesses using freelancers as part of their strategy, but they are also adapting their company cultures and working practices in order to try and replicate this work-life balance.
As more and more freelancing platforms appear on the market, a freelancer can run their business from end to end completely remotely with access to the right technology.