Here’s What The Future Looks Like When Freelancers Make Up 40% Of The Workforce

This will change how you hire, get hired, and collaborate with your future co-workers.

March 14, 2016

Within the next four years, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers who are working for more than one company at any given time.

Seven million additional Americans will have the opportunity to work from home, their local coffee shop, or even an exotic beach. But what’s causing this dramatic increase and what does that mean for the future?

Freelancers on the rise

Great talent is hard to find and even harder to keep, but that’s not new. Corporations are no longer offering lifelong job security and with people switching careers every four years, freelancers are becoming the obvious answer for quick and reliable talent.

“We’ve entered into a new chapter of work, in which technology has made it much easier for people to find work faster and reach beyond Industrial Era boundaries in order to create a more flexible work-life balance,” says Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel.

Securing enough projects used to be freelancers’ biggest obstacle… but not anymore. It doesn’t take much to find work when companies are frequently posting jobs on sites like Upwork and Freelancer.

They work when and where they want, they set their own rates, and they have the opportunity to work with a large portfolio of clients instead of one employer.

But with the rise of freelancers comes new trends that impact our careers and how we work with others.

What this means for the future

More coworking spaces

The rise of coworking spaces in urban centers help lonely freelancers connect while offering them support and resources. WeWork, which recently raised $430 million at a $16 billion valuation, is one of the more popular coworking spaces with 80 locations worldwide. WeWork prides itself on having vibrant communities, arcades, fresh fruit, and beer on tap.

Billion-dollar businesses won’t have full-time employees

I’m exaggerating – to a certain extent – but companies won’t need to recruit and retain employees like they do now. They can hire freelancers who are suited for a particular project instead of bringing someone on full-time with benefits and salary. The thought of working for a company where almost half of the staff are remote will slowly become the norm and this will challenge how businesses work together, hire people, and maintain company culture.

Alternative education

Trade schools, development boot camps, and online courses will become even more valuable. All you need to succeed in freelancing is an in-demand, highly-specialized skill like back-end development, book cover design, or legal consulting. Freelance sites like Upwork show you exactly who’s hiring and how much they’re willing to pay, no college degree required.

By moving to a gig economy, freelancers might miss out on that sense of belonging, and businesses are at risk of losing company loyalty. But the world of work is evolving and this massive shift is going to impact how we hire, get hired, and collaborate with others. Freelancing is a win-win situation for both workers and companies; it is up to us to adapt and accept these changes.


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Tam PhamTam Pham // The Hustle
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