Freelancing, gig work, gigging, contracting, consulting – we could sit here all day and debate what to call it, or we could all just agree that it’s having its hay day.
Right now, more people than ever are making the decision to give up the security of traditional employment and work for themselves as independent consultants, contractors or freelancers. And the demand is certainly there!
With fiscal responsibility top of mind for many organizations at the moment, employers are open (some for the first time) to exploring how hiring on a contract basis might benefit their business in both the short and long term.
I don’t get it, I like my job! So what’s all the hype about?
First things first, yes, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that good employers offer *a lot* to their team: training and mentorship, a clear career trajectory, stable hours, vacation, benefits and PTO, consistency, (relative) stability and, of course, a paycheck you know will show up in your account every second Friday.
These are all great things – things that full-time employees, for the most part, both acknowledge and appreciate.
So, back to the original question, why? Well, there’s no one answer to that, but the long and short of it is simply that the modern world of work continues to evolve, and, as it does, how we work together changes.
Right now, in 2023, innovations in tech have created space in the market for forward-thinking businesses and professionals to partner in exciting new ways, empowering both parties to achieve separate goals through a mutually beneficial collaboration.
Why do today’s professionals love freelancing?
Those who’ve made the switch say that the autonomy and flexibility are a big draw, but the perks of self-employment definitely don’t stop there.
Many advocates of freelancing claim they’ve found a better work-life balance in contract work, and that they enjoy having the ability to control their income (read: take on more projects when they need to, and pull back when they want), choose jobs that excite them and learn about different industries and organizations – while meeting a ton of great people along the way.
- Freedom and flexibility: you decide what projects you want to work on, where you want to do that work and, as long as the job’s done well and deadlines are met, you’re are afforded almost complete autonomy throughout the process.
- Work-life balance: when you’re the one deciding on your workload and your schedule, it’s a lot easier to create a healthy balance between the professional and the personal, finding a routine that best fits you, your family and your life.
- Increased earning potential: if you’re ready to get after it, freelancing can be extremely lucrative – you set your rates, you decide who to work with and how many clients you want to manage at any given time. You can pick up extra work during periods where cash is a bit tight, or if you’re saving for a big trip or purchase, and then dial it back if you need a little more breathing room.
- Wide variety of projects: it’s pretty tough to get bored when you’re working with clients that each have unique business goals and different needs and projects. For people who don’t mind not knowing exactly what each day’s going to bring, this keeps things interesting and makes work a lot more fun.
And what do employers think?
When hiring permanently doesn’t make sense, or when a company needs a professional with a particularly niche skill set, hiring an experienced, qualified professional on a contract basis is a great alternative. Independent consultants (or freelancers, if you prefer), can be brought on at any time to address a business’s urgent and high priority requirements, without the long-term commitment or additional costs attached to permanent hires.
As the gig economy continues to make headlines, more and more employers are seeing the benefit of investing in a ‘blended team’ – a mix of full-time staff and independent contractors that allows the organization to increase innovation, agility, efficiency and overall productivity in the long term.
Consultants are a great option for businesses of all shapes and sizes, in all sorts of situations! Here are some examples of situations where employers might opt to bring a freelancer into the mix:
- Unexpected vacancy or extended leave: maybe someone left unexpectedly and hiring’s taking longer than anticipated, or perhaps an employer needs to find quality coverage for a staff member off on extended leave. Either way, contractors are able to step in on short notice and ensure everything continues to run smoothly in the meanwhile. notice
- A unique project requires a niche skillset: if a business is conducting a large-scale system implementation, giving their training program an overhaul or about to embark on a project that requires expertise they simply don’t have in-house, working with an independent consultant is a great way to access a highly-specialized skillset from someone with the experience to help navigate unfamiliar territory.
- Manage a variable workload: some industries have clearly defined “busy seasons” and, in those situations, bringing on contract workers can help a business stay on schedule and reduce the stress (and risk of burnout) a particularly hectic time of year can have on full-time employees.