As more people become freelancers the employment market is shifting and with it many of the traditional structures in place to support it. Being a freelancer can provide flexibility, a good income, an exciting breadth of work and the ability to guide your own projects, but it also presents challenges. Working as a freelancer usually gives less job and income security than a normal job, involves additional admin and does not come with the usual package that accompanies employment such as a pension scheme or maternity/paternity leave options.
Nonetheless, freelancing is on the rise and has the potential to be a very positive influence on how we work. For many it is a positive choice – they learn how to generate income, enjoy the lifestyle and prove successful in balancing needs and delivering revenue streams. However, as a society we must be mindful of the increase in people who fall in to freelancing because they have no other choice or are offered work on a freelance basis only even when it was not their plan. In these circumstances freelancing can become problematic and disruptive. It is in these situations when support must be offered early on and specifically for individuals either to guide them towards their goal (eg full time employment) or to empower them as a freelancer and embrace what it can offer.
Co-working spaces will continue to grow in importance for freelancers, providing affordable spaces that give them a surrogate team, a like-minded community and somewhere to belong. When combined with working at home and on client site, the variety of the working week becomes interesting, promoting creativity, conversation and the blending of worlds.
Businesses of all size and style should begin to include in their strategy the use of freelancers. The access to their skills, talents and experience can be very good value, very low risk and very low commitment. More positively it provides quick response resource to immediate needs and requires no long-term commitment. In the future it may be that small businesses create over time their own freelancer teams that get to know them and their business and together provide capacity and expertise beyond the core team function that expand the capability of the business, give it confidence in taking on new work and enable growth in smaller steps.
Our employment markets are evolving quickly and freelancing is a good option for many. But it’s still an option only, which should be a positive choice for individuals.