Nowadays it seems everyone’s a freelancer. Working for yourself certainly brings lots of benefits, including choosing your own working hours and enjoying a good work-life balance. But how is freelancing changing the economy?
- Contributing to the coffee shop economy
Ever walked past a coffee shop and wondered what all those people sat in front of their laptops while sipping a skinny latte are doing? Well, they’re probably freelancing. For some sole traders, freelancing allows a greater degree of flexibility in the working day, so many decide to take themselves out of their home and to a cafe to work.
We reckon freelancers need some credit for contributing to what’s known as the ‘coffee shop economy’ – the booming success of big-name and independent coffee houses in the UK and further afield. In the UK alone, branded coffee chains posted a combined turnover of £3.3 billion in 2015.
- Boosting the sharing economy
The sharing economy – the sharing of products, ideas, goods and services, usually online – has been significantly boosted by freelancers. If you order a taxi via an app or book a hotel from your smartphone, you’re participating in the sharing economy without even realizing it.
This new economy has allowed the millions of people who work for themselves to create and innovate, finding new customers and new ways of working.
- Less rigid workplace structures
Gone are the days of a whole workforce coming in at 9, spending all day at their desks then leaving at 17.30. Reliance on freelance work – from SEO consultants and accountants, to copywriters and office managers – has slowly shifted the way we work. Coupled with flexible working, many of today’s workspaces operate more relaxed working structures, more attuned to the way people are actually working.
- Business benefits
Freelancing is not just good for the individual concerned. It’s great for business too. If a company can bring in a skilled freelancer to work on an important project for a short time only, then that is great business efficiency. It saves firms money and allows them to get on with focusing on their goals.
- New entrepreneurs?
Going freelance is hard. It forces people to be resourceful, to innovate, to think quickly. To work hard, promote themselves, grab opportunities when they arise and be confident self-starters. That could lead to a whole new generation of talented entrepreneurs who’ve learnt completely from the ground up.
- Shaky ground?
Freelancing brings lots of benefits to the economy. But for those benefits to be a reality, freelancers will have to work hard. When freelancing, success relies solely on the freelancer. With no employer paying a fixed salary, freelancers have to be adaptable, ensuring they know where their next assignment is coming from. For that reason, freelancers will need to keep an eye on their money much more keenly than those in salaried jobs. This could affect the economy if more people start turning to credit as a source of finance. Thankfully, there are various ways people in debt can get out of it, including trust deeds, IVAs, debt management orders and more.
Are you a freelancer? How do you see your work affecting the economy of the future?