Why we’re loving the plug and play economy

It used to be the case that being a freelancer meant you didn’t have a proper job. It was a status forced upon the redundant or those obliged to work from home because of children. Boy, how that has changed.

Being a freelancer is now a positive career choice for millions of workers and the favourite occupation of the millennial workforce for whom a 9-5 job spells defeat in the battle for self-esteem.

Employees are leaving their jobs in their swarms to go freelance and harvest the riches of the plug and play economy. Just like TV viewers who are turning to on demand services like Netflix, we are enjoying being in control of our consumption of work, creating bespoke work schedules with multiple employers.

It’s fact that more American’s are self-employed than in regular work and the UK, more than 5 million people are now classed as freelance up from 3.3 million in 2001. In fact, Deloitte estimates that by 2020, as much as 40 percent of the workforce will be part time or freelance.

The reasons for this exponential growth in this sector of the workforce revolves around three economic and social drivers.

  1. Firstly, a change of attitude towards work and its relationship with life. More workers, particularly millennials, are turning their backs on rigid structures of corporate life where their personal lives play second fiddle to their careers. A Mental Health Foundation survey recently found that as many as a third of us feel unhappy or very unhappy about the time we devote to work. Compare this to happiness levels amongst freelancer which, according to our research, is a remarkably high 91 per cent. According to a new Reportlinker report, many young American professionals find freelancing appealing because it offers them the ability to be their own boss, allows for a better balance of work and personal life, and a sense of freedom. Among those surveyed, 65% believed that freelancers were happier than other professionals. Some 26% of respondents said they expected to be a freelancer at some point in their career
  2. The economy has played its part in driving the freelance economy. Many of today’s independents lost their jobs in the recession and have been forced out on to the open market. The Telegraph puts the number of UK redundancies since the recession as high as one in seven of the workforce.
  3. Technology, as always, is the real rebel rouser. The growth of on-line talent marketplaces is making it much easier to find project work.  According to Staffing Industry Analysts, companies processed between $8.9 and $11.1 billion in spend associated with the so-called Human Cloud last year alone.

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