Just in case no one told you, it's totally OK to be or hire a traditional employee. But gigging isn't going away--half of American millennial workers already freelance, and we're on track for freelancers to be the majority by 2027, according to a study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union.
But like most things in business, freelancing is an electricity ball of adaptation. It's not going to look the same down the road as it does now. So I got in touch with Iain McNicoll, VP, Regional Head of Americas for Payoneer, to get a picture of where freelancing is headed and why. With those predictions, employers can prepare better to attract talent and stay competitive in daily operations, and freelancers can have their own stronger sense of stability.
1. Hiring freelancers will become more commonplace.
McNicoll asserts that, because technology is changing so fast and global competition is putting more pressure on businesses, leaders have to be more agile than they used to be in staff investments. And more people are seeing the benefits of career flexibility, including the potential to make more money freelancing. Subsequently, leaders of companies of all sizes are shifting to hire freelancers across their organizations in a full range of roles, not just as supplements to the workforce or as a way to save some cash as their businesses get off the ground.
2. Companies will not limit themselves to freelancers who are near to them.
"By creating a more connected, instant business ecosystem, the internet has lowered barriers of entry for smart, entrepreneurial individuals who are driven to succeed. They are no longer restricted by the demands of their local market; now, they have easy access to a global client base, and the ability to work where their skills are most needed. Concurrently, companies are focusing on finding talent with the right skillset, no longer restricted to professionals in the vicinity of their office. This has shifted the focus from proximity to expertise when it comes to hiring; in short, companies are asking 'Who?', not 'Where?'"
3. Leaders will look for specialists.
With freelancing, McNicoll says, workers can do what they love and become highly skilled in that area. This creates the ideal scenario for leaders who need to supplement the skilled general work that in-house employees already can do.
"Clients seek freelancers with previous success on a specific type of project- not only in regards to expertise, but also in being able to meet requirements in a short timespan. It makes more sense to hire several freelancers on one projects with proven track records in their area of focus, rather than taking a leap of faith on a freelancer who claims to be able to do a little bit of everything."
McNicoll also notes that platforms that allow freelancers to highlight their specializations are thriving, allowing employers and those looking for projects to connect with ease. Upwork, for example, offers 500 freelance categories and more than a whopping 5,000 subcategories.
4. Secondary providers that support freelancing will boom.
"As the freelance workforce expands, there is an increased need for partners and tools to support it," says McNicoll. "Already, companies like TopTracker, which offers integrated time tracking and invoicing capabilities to freelancers, are seeing massive success. Freelancers need marketing tools for making themselves more visible, payments partners to make cross-border payments as easy as local payments, and translation and messaging tools to improve communication."
While many of these supports center around the logistics of being able to work, others fill gaps usually filled by HR. There's also a need, for instance, for health insurance, retirement savings plans and more.
With all these secondary firms working together, freelancers will be increasingly able to enjoy the same support and resources and in-house employees. It's a sparkling opportunitity for entrepreneurs to build new ventures based on how people want to work, rather than how they've operated in the past.
5. Freelancing will be a career style, not a career path.
"Perhaps the most significant change that we see coming is the shift from freelancing being seen as its own career path, to being a path that any career can take. Today, most professionals determine whether to pursue freelancing as a product of their chosen field - graphic designers, for example, are likely to consider gig work as a way forward; lawyers, less so. In the near future, we see this separation dissipating. Professionals will not only consider what they want to do, but how they want to do it. They will be able to decide to become an accountant, and then ask - do I prefer to work in-house, or freelance? Ultimately, we see more flexibility for all workers, more agility for companies, and more demand for freedom to choose a variety of career styles moving forward."