We all know that the way work is conducted is changing. There is a 26 percent increase in the number of remote jobs posted according to Forbes Magazine, reporting on a study that examined the job-posting histories of more than 30,000 companies last year. In other words, the option to work from home is becoming more widely accepted in the job market. Technology advances make it possible to get work accomplished partially or completely by remote workers, saving companies big bucks on their need for office space among other things.
The technologies that make remote work possible has also fueled the freelance economy (or the 1099 economy) of on-demand workers. Freelancers, or independent contractors, work at ‘gigs’, independent of anything but their contract. The economy currently has 53 million Americans (or 34% of the workforce) listed as independent contractors, with many Americans receiving a part of their income through freelance work. Office space for these workers could be anywhere; home, their neighborhood coffee shop, a hotel room in a tourist spot, a library, or even a beach. The only imperative seems to be wi-fi or other internet connection. The option to work-from-anyplace-connected seems to hold a great attraction for many workers today, who feel liberated, free to be more creative and empowered as individuals.
Independent contractors are the workforce of the demand economy. Entrepreneurial individuals have harnessed social media to offer new ways to deliver car services, legal services, healthcare, journalism, household repairs, shopping services, oil rig maintenance and IT programming. In fact, few industries have not been reshaped by the demand economy. In many cases, the online service has become so popular that it has spawned a successful new business or industry sector. Uber and similar companies have redefined the car service business. Homejoy has done the same to plumbers and electricians. Traditional companies, utilizing permanent employees to provide these services, are now forced to deal with these new sources of competition.
While the lure of being independent is strong, not everyone succeeds when they go into business for themselves. It helps to have an action plan when turning to freelance work or independent contracting. So, is there a formula for success that can be adopted by a person who decides to enter this economy and get established?
Let us look at the realities of work as an Independent Contractor.
While these realities make it clear that freelancing is not for all of us, innovation certainly has made many of the above challenges less of a burden.
The vast majority of us will be employed for a significant portion of our lifetimes. A report published earlier this year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics examined job patters of people born in the years 1957 to 1964. They found that, from age 18 to age 48, they held an average of 11.7 jobs. We expect that a similar analysis of younger workers will show an even greater frequency of job changes, and the rate will be further inflated by the growing number of individuals choosing independent contractor positions. What remains to be seen is whether technological and regulatory advancements will be sufficient to increase the number of workers who pursue freelancing as a full-time career. Will we actually see a surge in workers who entirely reject “permanent employment”? Share your experiences with us, and share this blog with others. We want to know more about your perspectives on independent contracting.
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