Freelancers are way ahead of the rest of us | Hannah Carter

Fewer and fewer people will actually work in traditional jobs in the future. Fewer than the three million of us who are freelancers today.

This is only just beginning to happen. This Friday, the National Bureau of Economic Research is to release a new study by Tao Wu and Hao Wu, co-founders of Tuenti, a China-based global micro-payments and workplace marketplace.

The study claims that by 2026, 50% of workers will be freelancers.

It’s about to get worse

This has serious ramifications for all of us who want to be paid for our work, and it is producing a seismic shift in the way we work, and earn a living.

At this point, it is clear that most people, both in London and abroad, are increasingly working “on their own terms”. And as our use of technology rises, the ways in which we choose and supply work will become increasingly diverse. Technology allows us to do so much more by the hour, we’re able to work remotely, find and manage our own projects, and we can do so much more by being mobile.

Professionals are either “freelancing for hire” or “freelancing for self-employment”, according to figures from Glassdoor, a US-based jobs site, through the web to date. And this is set to double from last year.

All at once, we’ve decided that neither job nor salary should be a priority, so we’ve started to simply grab them as they fall by the wayside or are fired. Freelancing is becoming more prevalent in both the US and Europe, there is a rising number of startups catering for it, many people are set to have a more flexible way of earning their living, and more and more people are starting to define what they want in a job and how they want to receive pay. It is therefore no surprise that the future of work is about to change.

Technology is helping us all to simplify our jobs, but as business models evolve we see an even greater interest from individuals in having control over the things they do, for themselves.

This is not because of narrow economic ideology but a global feeling of personal entitlement. As we all move ever more into the 21st century and read what has happened in other industries – like food manufacturing, call centres and even journalism, – we see the way human beings have been exploited. And in this new age, we are seeing the first moves to create a new economy.

For students, working as a freelance writer may seem like a sweet benefit, but is hardly the way to build your skills or work your way into a career.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. But just because someone does have this flexibility, it doesn’t mean you should choose a life of working as part of a high-stress team, if that’s something you want.

And it’s not because I have no sympathy for those people who do not want to be in such a large team, it’s because when you spend so much time at work in your job, your intrinsic motivation is absolutely key to your success, your wellbeing, and its your quality of life.

‘I found an online community, we all clicked and found a way to work together’

This is why, with my freelancing, I’ve actually found new community. I can work from wherever I want. I also like interacting with my community, not just with clients, but with other freelancers.

There is a market out there for this, so I make sure to support other freelancers because there is an ebb and flow to the things we’ll do, and when I’m working freelance, I can be in a situation where clients are not paying me, when my hard-earned money may need to support an additional freelancer, and I can make this extra work up by swapping my work with other freelancers.

And that’s not only a win for me, it’s a win for the freelancer who has also found this work.

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a way to work alongside those you love and believe in, and for me, when I sign off the day, I know I’ve helped someone else. I am now working in London, with a very large team and the best of both worlds – I’m a freelancer working from my home in Soho, England.

A lot of people are on the same page with me: they are freelancers in a down-market sector, and a part of a very complex industry. We call this new economy “Jobs 2.0”, and it really does mean changing your life.

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