The recession caused a lot of former 9 to 5-ers to revamp their means of procuring income. Though the unemployment rate has decreased over the years, many of those in the work force do not feel secure that the tide is turning towards a more secure work environment. Based upon figures provided by The Freelancer’s Union, nearly one in three Americans (i.e. – roughly 42 million) are an independent workers, and by 2020, it is predicted that freelancers will make up 50 percent of the labor force.
With such data pointing towards a different working landscape, what exactly is causing this increase in those seeking and/or being forced to rely upon freelance work? According to a recent Forbes.com article, there are five formidable reasons for this shift.
1. It’s the digital age, so everything is online.
Traditional hiring through human resource departments is waning. Businesses are turning to the web to scout and hire talent because it’s faster and cheaper than the traditional hiring process. Prospects increasingly use the web to find gigs, enabling them to cast a wide net for employers and market themselves in creative ways. When you can fulfill your employment needs with a few clicks, it makes sense to power up and down to meet the needs of each project rather than engaging full-time employees.
2. Technology empowers people to work from anywhere.
When you’ve got a sophisticated computer in your pocket, being chained to a desk job doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 91 percent of Americans have mobile phones and over half own smartphones. This means we can write code, design masterpieces, and close million dollar deals no matter where we are — the beach, the coffee shop, the sofa. Makes driving to the office seem passé, doesn’t it?
3. Working independently is where the money is.
People are not only surviving working independently, they’re thriving. As the demand for remote workers increases, the new labor force of entrepreneurs has risen to meet the demand. That means that there’s simply more opportunity (and cash) out there for people to work independently. In fact, freelancers generated $1.2 trillion in total income in 2013, up 20 percent from 2012. And keep in mind that self-employed people tend to hire other self-employed people, creating a cycle of independent job creation.
4. We want control our own careers.
Our lives are more complicated, fluid, and longer than ever. We make multiple career changes over the course of our existences, rather than sticking it out at one company. We go back to school in our sixties and have our first kids in our forties. We’re constantly reinventing ourselves, trying to find our passions, do what we love, and lead fulfilling lives.
And we need to be flexible to meet these dynamics. A set schedule where you answer to a boss for every second of the day doesn’t match reality. Parents want to make it to their kids’ dance recitals. When they’re not in class, students need to earn an income to fund their educations.Working independently gives us control over our time and allows us to be nimble in a rapidly changing world.
5. Brand building isn’t just for the big guys.
The opportunities to promote yourself and your business are vast – and it doesn’t take a whole team of marketers.
We can create promo videos with our phones, access rich market research via Google, and find potential customers easily on the web. Gone are the days when creating a brand was limited to big corporations and their advertising agencies. Online marketplaces are rising to meet this need by providing ways to get your promotional materials out there. The best of them make it easy to broadcast your work, cull customer reviews, and generally make a splash.
All of this is great news for us strivers, dreamers, and disrupters. The world of work is morphing. Platforms and networks are being born. Your brainchildren have more chance than ever to flourish.
So let’s work!
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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