Finding a place for independent workers in modern-day society

By Tim Hinchliffe December 6, 2016

Today 55 million Americans are working as freelancers. That’s 35 per cent of the US workforce. By 2020 it’s predicted that this proportion will increase to more than 40 per cent of Americans.

Why the huge rise in freelance economy?

The internet has a lot to do with it. Now that it’s so easy for freelancers to showcase themselves and find work online regardless of the country they’re in, why tie yourself down to one company or one place?

With disappearing employment rights and a decline in perks such as benefit pension schemes, fixed employment isn’t so attractive anymore, either.

The so-called ‘Gig Economy’ is thriving, with freelance workers earning an estimated $1trn in 2016. The opportunity to promote yourself is also becoming easier – brand building is no longer exclusively for big name players.

And it’s not just the workers reap the benefits. A flexible workforce has been largely responsible for the startup explosion in the last decade, employers are now gaining entry to a larger, more diverse, global pool of talent.

How do we adapt?

We’re all still getting to grips with this new, independent way of working and it’s not without its difficulties.

Being an independent contractor or a freelancer means sacrificing certain securities and facing the world all alone. For employers, it’s hard to find freelancers they can trust and who will stay loyal to their company.

So what’s being done to create a secure place for the curious world of freelance?

Platforms for finding talent

  • Websites like Upwork and Elance are home to tens of millions of freelancers and create a reliable source of employment for all parties.
  • New remote team-building platforms like Bolton Remote, which offers SMEs the opportunity to hire pre-screened, trusted freelance staff, are popping up all over the place and making it possible for people and companies of all caliber to connect and form secure working relationships.
  • The freelance boom has also ushered in some unlikely working concepts. XPolinate is one example of this – an employee-sharing platform that gives workers the freedom to explore different companies whilst supposedly giving those businesses a higher chance of collaborative partnerships amongst themselves.

Co-working spaces

  • Co-working spaces are saving lonesome freelancers from the solitude of working remotely. Last year saw a rise in co-working spaces to 7,800 across the globe.
  • Working alongside fellow freelancers not only gives you company and a sense of community, it also makes you work harder. Increased productivity is often reported in co-working spaces and offices as opposed to at home. Separating work life from home life keeps you motivated apparently – it’s all in the mind.

New opportunities for skilled independent contractors

  • Freelance platforms for practical, skilled workers are becoming more and more popular. Nowadays people want quick, direct contact with contractors for in-house, care and maintenances services.
  • On-demand services platforms offer employment for reliable, trusted contractors who are struggling to find work elsewhere.
  • Platforms like Genio, Task Rabbit and Handy hire independent contractors to do domestic, repair jobs. The services secure work for the contractors who can find hundreds of jobs in their city and they receive a better pay than they would elsewhere.
  • Parents in particular, who are increasingly taking on freelance roles themselves, welcome flexible, independent contractors with open arms.
  • On-demand service platforms like myBestHelper and Go Fantastic are tailored to the needs of busy parents juggling work and family life. From spanish tutors to babysitters to gardeners, these platforms offer a range of different services at short notice.

New opportunities for creative freelancers

  • With new businesses emerging left right and center, the demand for creative talent is high. Creating a professional brand when you can’t afford to hire a branding agency used to be impossible, but with a surge of online branding games and competitions, new companies are now able to get quality work from creative freelancers.
  • Crowdsourcing platforms like Logo Design Guru, SquadHelp and Naming Force hold branding contests where hundreds of creatives compete to produce a winning name, logo or brand design for a company. The creatives gain recognition for their work on the site and the winners gain cash prizes.
  • Other platforms such as DADA and Behance, are inspired to support freelance artists and offer them a place to showcase their work and create merchandise they can then sell. After all, it’s not easy putting food on the table if you’re an artist.

Platforms like these help to mitigate the risks of independent working. And why not? For some people independent working is the best option out there. Here’s to a more flexible future.

Holly Eustance


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