Future of Freelance
Cincinnati, OH | Posted: 02/16/2016 | Author: April Koenig
The signs are all over the place. An Intuit survey estimates that 60 million people will be independent workers by the year 2020. The Kaufman Foundation says that by 2040 the American economy will be “scarcely recognizable” due to the rise of the freelance consultancy class. What will this drastic change mean for businesses? Is it irreversible? Do we want it to be?
One obvious change will be the phasing out of the ‘traditional’ job paradigm, which will affect all aspects of business. “There’s a whole ripple effect if this is going to be an actual and growing part of the economy” warns Dane Stangler, from the Kaufman Foundation. “It’s going to put major strains on our public fiscal system. We’ve built all of our massive entitlement programs – whether it’s social security for retirement or health care systems or unemployment insurance or whatever – around this notion of a fixed job”. The growing pains of this shift will be apparent and drastic changes to policy will be necessary.
This emphasis on contract work will lead to a career of hundreds of small tasks, rather than one long-term job. Portfolios and self-selling will take place from the home office, as personal technology lends itself to business income like never before. The freelance artist almost becomes the travelling carpenter of old, bringing their toolkit to the jobsite. After the task is completed, they move along to the next project. This self-ownership means that the small business sector will see the largest job growth.
That job growth will also be due to the rise of third-party counselors for benefits lost in the changing job landscape. Providers of retirement, health insurance, tax planning and other assistance that were once associated with a permanent job will be meted out by other sources, both public and private. Other lost benefits of an office job will be compensated in different ways. Office sharing spaces, recently on the rise, will become more prevalent. Contract consultants will share the resources once found in traditional settings.
Finally, the future worker will be more directly responsible for his or her success. As an independent contractor, there will be no career ladder or credentialed path. It will be up to them to be sell their work and experience. The traditional loyalty found in today’s company setting will fade, serving as a double edged sword. The opportunities for a fulfilling livelihood will be numerous, but only for the savviest of earners willing to adapt.