There’s no doubt that interest in freelancing continues to grow. Freelancing participation is nearing 70m here in the US, and is a multiple of that number on a global basis according to Morgan Stanley.
Nor is it hard to find media mentions that suggest the attractiveness of a part- or fulltime career in freelancing. A recent Forbes article described a dozen compelling reasons to consider freelancing.
Here is a second dozen:
- Because freelancing demand is increasing. A new Forbes article points out the growth of independent management consulting. As one CEO put it, “We now see a strong rise in demand for the last few weeks and are confident this will go on. We are confident for both this year and next. Our client mix is stable. We see a lot of new industries interested in independent management consulting, with currently a lot of transformation projects happening, especially as companies focus on support and core systems digitalisation.”
- Because after eight interviews there’s still no job offer. According to the WSJ, “Amid layoffs and hiring freezes, many employers have slowed down filling office jobs, from receptionist to chief financial officer, executives and recruiters say. They’re slow-walking candidates, piling on new requirements ranging from more years of experience to higher scores on technical tests, to running prospective hires through additional rounds of interviews.
- Because there’s trouble with your paycheck. The UK Freelance Informer wrote, ”With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to impact households across the country, this drop in pay could be driving more people into self-employment and contract work which can often be more lucrative for highly skilled professionals.”
- Because all the good jobs won’t return. According to the WSJ, “The jobs lost in a months long cascade of white-collar layoffs triggered by over hiring and rising interest rates might never return … Companies are rethinking the value of many white-collar roles, in what some experts anticipate will be a permanent shift in labor demand that will disrupt the work life of millions of Americans whose jobs will be lost, diminished or revamped partly through the use of artificial intelligence.”
- Because bosses are still trying to come up with reasons why employees should return to the office. A report argues that since random meetings among employees can produce sparks that lead to innovation, we should all return to offices and go to local coffee shops where we’ll randomly meet colleagues from other companies. Pretty lame.
- Because fulltime hiring has slowed to a crawl. CNBC wrote: “ADP chief economist Nela Richardson told CNBC to expect “… a more conservative pace of hiring, possibly as companies try to decipher the economy’s conflicting signals.”
- Because AI is shaking up corporate staffing wherever you look. As Business Insider put it this way, “It should be no surprise that Meta is bringing AI to its workforce in a big way. In March, Zuckerberg said his “single largest investment is in advancing AI” while building it into every one of its products. At the same time, he said 5,000 open roles not yet hired for would be closed.”
- Because digital nomading is a real thing. According to the BBC ”More than 25 countries have launched visa programs for digital nomads, enabling these travelers to work legally, longer, and more freely.” Estimates of the size of the global digital nomad community range from 15m to 35m.
- Because the “forever labor shortage” of skilled workers helps freelancers. Here’s how Business Insider put it: “Ever since the baby boom that followed World War II, companies have enjoyed a never-ending supply of workers to tap … But now, those baby boomers are retiring in droves, and companies are suddenly finding themselves without an endless reserve of available bodies. “The labor shortage we're dealing with today is likely to remain this way — and perhaps get even worse,” says Jay Denton, the chief analytics officer at LaborIQ, which provides salary analysis to employers. “It's going to continue to be really hard to attract people and get them into new jobs. We're entering what is shaping up to be the Forever Labor Shortage.”
- Because freelancing is increasingly normal. An Upwork report noted: “39% of the total US workforce freelanced over the past year in 2022, including those who freelanced fulltime or part time. That's up from 36% in both 2021 and 2020. The shares were 34% almost a decade earlier in both 2014 and 2015.”
- Because freelancers are more likely to welcome the future. Members of FYI, a Hollywood platform for creatives founded by Black Eyed Pea Will.i.am, were asked: Is anybody here afraid of AI taking their job? Only one person—a reporter on assignment—raised his hand. Everyone else in the audience, was unafraid. Fearing AI was like being afraid of the automobile or going to the moon. “AI was, for them, a vehicle to the stars, not to the dark side.”
Way back in 2015, two pioneers of the freelancing economy, Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners, and Steve King, co-CEO of Emergentresearch.com, wrote in HBR that the conditions for freelancing emerging as a true “third choice” had fallen into place:
“Two broad shifts—one on the employer side, the other on the worker side—are driving this boom. First, companies increasingly need a flexible workforce to compete globally … Independent workers allow them to quickly and efficiently scale staffing up and down to meet shifts in demand and changing business circumstances … Businesses are also turning to highly skilled independent workers due to difficulties in attracting and retaining employees with hard-to-find specialized talents.
“Second, many skilled professionals want independence and are going into contingent work to gain greater work/life flexibility, autonomy, and control over their careers. These highly talented professionals are realizing they are able to go off on their own and make as much or even more money … These professionals are in demand, and they know it.”
The conditions Zaino and King described haven’t changed, only increased. Companies still need flexibility. Professionals still want independence. And the media keep providing good reasons for making the shift from employee to solopreneur.
Viva la Revolution!
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