One of the trends becoming apparent following the recent global financial crisis and worldwide recession is that the “new economy” is likely to be a freelance economy. Since the economic troubles that swept much of the globe, there has been an increase in temp jobs, freelance jobs, and adjunct jobs.
I’ve seen this trend first hand. First of all, my client base has expanded dramatically as I’ve done more work for corporate clients. When companies hire me as a freelancer, they don’t have to pay overhead for my office space, and they don’t have to worry about payroll taxes and benefits. On top of that, my husband is seeing something similar in the academic world. There are a lot more openings for adjuncts, visiting professors, and lecturers. Not a lot of full-time professor jobs out there. He’s an adjunct at a local university, and often refers to himself as a “freelance teacher.”
But is the new freelance economy such a bad thing? It depends on what you make of it. I’ve found some silver linings to the new freelance economy — at least the way it’s affected my family where I live in the United States.
More Freedom and Flexibility
One of the things I love about freelancing is that it comes with a large degree of freedom and flexibility. I can choose to say no to gigs I don’t want, and I work on my own schedule. My husband has a similar arrangement. Since he’s not contractually obligated to teach a certain number of classes each semester or hold a minimal number of office hours, he can choose not to teach as many classes, and he can decide his own office schedule. Sometimes he even holds virtual office hours, since he’s not required to have office hours at all, and only offers them as a courtesy to students.
Our freelance lifestyle allows us more freedom and flexibility than a set job with an employment contract would allow.
Technology and The Rise of Work From Home
I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that the freelance economy is expanding as technology becomes more widespread. Thanks to technology, it’s possible to work remotely. Two of my husband’s classes aren’t even taught on campus; they are taught online.
The freelance economy has the potential to change the way many of us live and work. If you want to work from home, the rise of technology, as well as the fact that many companies are becoming accustomed to the idea of hiring freelancers and temps, this is an interesting time to be changing the way you view your work and your lifestyle.
What About Benefits?
The main downside to a freelance economy is the loss of benefits from employers. In the United States, our biggest difficult comes from affording health care. However, even in that area things are evolving to fit the new realities of the freelance economy. We’ve long had an insurance policy I found through an aggregator online as a result of my freelance work. There are other benefits that you can get as well. The United States and Canada both have ax-advantaged retirement accounts and education savings accounts are available to anyone.
While it means a little more work, it’s still possible to take care of your needs when working in a freelance economy. What do you think? Have you seen an increase in freelance-type work? Would you do it?