Ever heard the term “gig economy”? Of course, you have. We all have. People are having a hard time with the term, however, because millions around the world are building sustainable careers freelancing. The concept of people choosing contract and remote work over the monotonous 9-to-5 office job is not new. It is, however, noticeably on the rise and projected to continue in growth around the globe. So what does the future of freelancing look like in the next 10 years?
A 2017 study found that 36%, about 57.3 million people, of the United States workforce is freelance. It’s also projected that 16.1% of workers in the European Union currently work in some sort of freelance capacity. Both are expected to rise exponentially within the next few years, with some projections expecting half the U.S. workforce to be freelance.
The Future Of Freelancing
What’s driving this huge shift, and what will freelancing actually look like in the next 10 years? That’s a very good question! And one that we can try to answer by looking at why there are so many current freelancers. People are beginning to realize there are more options to earn a living than working the typical 9-to-5. The freedom, flexibility, and thought of being one’s own boss draw people in.
It used to be (and maybe just looking back five years) that freelancing was seen as a last resort; for those who couldn’t land a full-time job, people experiencing an employment gap or recent college grads trying to gain experience to entice larger companies to hire them. But something’s changed. People are transitioning to freelance by choice, not necessity. Work-life balance, working toward a passion and the freedom to work where you want and when are some of the largest motivators. People are turning their freelance dreams into a reality, and are being successful at doing so.
Freelance Economy Growth Drivers
What are some things that will continue to drive the growth of freelancing over the next 10 years?
For the future of freelancing, technology will continue to be an important tool in making work accessible for freelancers. And not just through online job boards and bidding sites. Social media – especially platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – is proving to become an ideal space for companies and talent to connect and build long-lasting working relationships.
It’s likely that we will see a rise in tools and applications being developed specifically for freelancers to help run thriving solo-businesses.
Word-of-Mouth and an Expanding Need
As more people become successful in their freelance careers, more people will see that it’s an attainable lifestyle. Until recently, it was seen as an option when other opportunities seemed scarce. Or something a person could do on occasion while still keeping a “day job.”
The future of freelancing will show that opportunities become abundant. Companies and organizations find that hiring a freelancer or contractor is a savvy way to get on-demand skills needed for a certain project. They’re also keen on the idea of how much this saves their business in overhead costs.
This connection between businesses looking for certain talent per project and solopreneurs will continue to evolve. Not only that, but people will see others successful and running their freelance business and think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”. Prospective clients and opportunities will await and greet those who made the leap into an exciting freelance career.
More Ways to Work
A common stereotype of freelancers is that they spend their days in pajamas working in bed or on a beach with their laptop. If that were true, there wouldn’t be millions of people around the world making a living by freelancing.
Coworking will become even more significant in the future of freelancing. Coworking spaces have created ways in which freelancers and other remote workers can go to an office without “going to the office.” The popularity of co-working spaces is growing, and not just because they can help with productivity. Coworking spaces offer a sense of community, provide excellent networking opportunities and resources to remote workers and solopreneurs. These spaces will continue to open up around the world to offer freelancers a place and community to work.
Diversity in People Freelancing
The field is dominated by the creatives – graphic designers, artists, web developers, and writers. Social media managers, marketing, and public relations professionals are also creating viable solo-careers for themselves. This group of freelancers is not going anywhere. In fact, as more realize they can do what they love and have the freedom of being their own boss, this group will help meet the projections of skyrocketing growth of freelancers over the next decade.
Freelancing isn’t solely for creatives. People with various business and administrative backgrounds are having success as virtual assistants. Others are drawing from broad professional experiences and turning it into a freelance consultancy business. Freelancing will have a much more diverse look in the future. A variety of education, background, motivations, needs, and ambitions will shape what the new era of freelancers will look like.
Freelancing in 2018
So, what will Freelancing Look Like in 2028? All research and studies indicate freelancing will continue on its path of expansive growth. I agree. And I also believe the term “gig-economy” will lose its relevance. Freelancing will continue to become a respected field, and one that flourishes in diversity of talent and opportunities.