If you haven’t heard the term “freelancing,” you might want to take notice. It’s one of the fastest growing job trends in the world. With growth projections of 3.5 percent year-over-year, it’s expected that by 2027 the workforce majority will be freelancers.
Freelancers (independent workers, remote contractors, side-hustlers, self-employed, etc.) are workers who are employed on a contract basis. Freelancing professionals are traditionally hired by a company to perform a specific task or project and are paid based on their ability to complete agreed upon work.
Business owners are now considering whether they should hire freelancers or full-time employees. Employees are wondering if they should forego a steady paycheck for the freedom and flexibility of a freelancing career.
To help you glean more insight, let’s look at why you can expect freelancing to only get bigger in 2019.
Generation Z is joining the workforce
Generation Z is defined as those born in the mid-1990s and first decade of the 2000s. It’s estimated that roughly 61 million Gen Z’ers will join the workforce in the coming years. That number will engulf the amount of Gen X employees while approaching the size of baby boomers in the workforce.
Generation Z will be the driving force behind the growth of the freelancing in the coming decade.
In a report released recently by Upwork, 46 percent of Generation Z workers are currently freelancing. Moreover, 73 percent of Gen Z freelancers are choosing that career path willingly.
As more of Generation Z enter the workforce in the coming years, employers can expect the amount of quality independent contractors to rise — making it more advantageous for employers to hire freelance talent.
Related: 3 benefits of hiring Gen Z employees
Technology is making it easier to find and manage freelancers
In recent years, we’ve seen a massive shift in how businesses operate thanks to technological advances. Businesses can market their brand easily using their custom website and social media profiles. Companies can manufacture and ship goods globally at affordable rates thanks to improved machinery and delivery logistics.
No matter where you look within a business, you will see changes caused by advances in technology — and the human resources department is no different.
Technology is making it increasingly simple for businesses to find, hire and manage contract talent. Freelance platforms like UpWork and Fiverr make it easy for freelancers to register and create profiles highlighting their skills. Then, companies looking for freelancing can create project offers on those platforms and vet applicants for the most qualified talent.
Additionally, these platforms come equipped with tools and resources that streamline communication, project management, payment and project review.
Other technology like cloud computing, video conferencing and collaborative software have helped push the freelancing revolution forward and will continue to do so in 2019.
The traditional workweek is obsolete
The traditional 40-hour workweek was mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1940 to prevent companies from overworking employees, among other things. Almost 80 years later, employers are still using this model to justify eight-hour workdays — even though research has shown that most employees are only productive for about three of those eight hours.
Products that once took days or weeks to manufacture by hand are being done in minutes or hours thanks to improved machinery. While these advancements make production more efficient, it reduces a lot of the work that filled the eight-hour workday.
This added downtime isn’t just a waste of human resources — it de-motivates employees and breeds discontentment. In fact, more than 70 percent of employees are unsatisfied with their traditional job and are looking for a career change. Many of these employees are choosing the self-employment path — with another study showing that 97 percent of self-employed professionals have no plans to return to a traditional job.
Employers are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of the 40-hour workweek and are implementing programs like flex-schedules, unlimited PTO and work-from-home days. These accommodations are a step in the right direction, but they are severely outmatched by the autonomy and freedom of a freelancing career.
Work-life balance is more important to employees
Employees’ personal lives and social dynamics have also changed over the last 80 years. People are choosing to marry and have children later in their lives — especially if they have a college degree or higher. This creates a landscape that encourages people to pursue their personal goals and motivations over the traditional family.
Additionally, people are foregoing a mortgage to rent or live with their parents. In fact, a study from Pew Research Center found that more than 30 percent of people ages 18 to 34 live with their parents — more than any other living situation.
By not attaching themselves to the long-term debt of homeownership, people have fewer financial responsibilities and burdens.
These are just two of the many factors motivating employees to pursue a healthier work-life balance. While human resource departments are making strides to improve the work-life balance of traditional employment, they cannot compete with the flexibility of freelancing.
If you have internet access, you can freelance from anywhere. Unhappy with your workload or with a specific client? You have the flexibility to increase or decrease your workload and fire unruly clients. The ability to work when, where and with whom you want are some of the main reasons people love freelancing.
Employers benefit from freelancing
Businesses are another driving force behind the growth of the freelancing industry. It’s estimated that 63 percent of companies have remote workers on their payroll.
The freelancing ecosystem would not thrive without the demand by employers to outsource work. Employers are turning to freelancers because:
- They provide unique expertise and specialized skill sets that may be hard to find.
- You can reach a global talent pool and are not limited to local workers.
- The lack of overhead and benefits can decrease the hiring costs.
- Return-on-investment is easier to calculate because work is usually tied to a specific project or task.
- Scaling up or down is easier because of the temporary nature of the relationship.
Don’t expect freelancing to go away
Freelancing and the gig-economy are not going away. As technology makes it easier for agile teams to collaborate, employees and employers will be more open to remote work. And as our society continues to move to a healthier balance between our professional and personal life, more people will seek jobs based on passion, flexibility, creativity and autonomy — which are often characteristics of a freelancing career.