The freelancing industry is a fascinating one. Its growth in recent years has been astounding and people from every walk of life are now considering a freelance career as a viable option. Let’s look at what the sector is currently like and how freelancing will change in 2020.
Current freelancing trends
The successful rise of the freelancing industry is undeniable at the moment. Management consultancy McKinsey & Company’s report on ‘Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy’ found that a staggering 162 million people in Europe and the US engage in some form of independent work. ‘Opportunity Engine’ Kalido reported that 64% of businesses currently rely on freelancers in some capacity.
The benefits of the rising ‘gig economy’ are also undeniable. It is thought that productivity across workforces could rise, opportunities could increase for the unemployed and companies could enjoy easier access to specialist services.
What is the future of freelancing?
The freelancing industry is a fluid and fast-paced world. In a reflection of the people who choose to be independent workers, it is adaptable, reactive, and versatile. What freelancing trends can we expect to see in the coming years?
Brexit cannot be ignored as a factor in any industry in Europe at the moment due to the uncertainty that it has caused.
For freelancers, it is difficult to accurately predict what the impact will be. For example, if free movement is restricted then UK freelancers may not be able to access work opportunities in the EU. On the flip side, if fewer skilled workers are allowed in the UK, then competition for jobs might be less.
It may result in an increasing number of people turning to solutions like e-Residency and Xolo in Estonia that will allow them to continue their work across the continent.
These days, companies are more likely to recognize freelance talent and are therefore more comfortable to work with experienced independents.
Freelancers’ work ethics, market experience, and strategic and modern thinking are all assets that companies want to benefit from. Interestingly, businesses’ core ecosystems are shifting, and they are increasingly likely to be made up of different contributors rather than the traditional 9-5 workforce.
Additionally, companies are having to be more flexible – and frugal – in their approach to new projects. Utilizing freelance talent is therefore perfect, as Kirsty Hulse from Manyminds told Forbes earlier this year: “I can use a global talent pool and access extremely high level or specialized skill sets as and when I need them”.
As the freelance world grows, so does the support available to independent workers, and so the cycle continues. Gone are the days where freelancers are seen as having casual and precarious careers. Freelance talent is now being recognized as progressive and dynamic.
There is now an abundance of fantastic support platforms like Xolo Leap to ensure that a freelancer’s business is compliant with up-to-date accounting records. There has also been a surge in the number of co-working spaces, with every major town in Europe having a wealth of motivating and supportive spaces to work in. Remarkably, there are approximately over 35,000 flexible workspaces across the globe.
Better protection from exploitation
Fortunately, as more people turn to this form of work, so too has the attention of regulatory bodies around the world.
For example, the rise of freelancers in the UK has not gone unnoticed by the UK Government – probably because according to a report from The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, professional freelancers contributed a remarkable £275bn to the UK economy in 2018.
In response to this, the UK Government has placed a strong emphasis on self-employment in its ‘Good Work Plan’. This sets out a package of workplace reforms over the next 20 years to meet the changing world of employment.
Challenges in the marketplace
For freelancers, future challenges aren’t likely to differ too much from what they are today.
Job insecurity is always going to be a major consideration before anyone takes the leap into independent work. This is why many people trial a freelance career as a side hustle before taking the plunge.
Problems with accounting are also going to be a never-ending challenge for freelancers, especially as their networks get larger and their clients get geographically further away. Chasing payments, getting contracts signed, and staying on top of tax compliance will sadly always probably be a problem.
This leads to another issue of the incessant balancing act. For example, if you become a freelance copywriter, you also have to be your own PR machine, accounting team, and motivational speaker as well.
What do you think the future of the freelancing industry holds?