One in three U.S. workers is a freelance worker or independent contractor, according to a recent study done by the Freelancers Union and freelance worker site Upwork (formerly oDesk). That’s 53 million of us, including some 14.3 million who work part time or in their spare time for extra money (so-called “moonlighters”), in addition to their normal 9-to-5 jobs. Don’t believe this statistic? This number will only grow, as an Intuit 2020 report predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of all workers will be independent or contract workers.

So what’s the appeal of contract labor? Why do so many workers freelance? And why are the numbers increasing every day?

First, let’s talk about the changing landscape of the job market. With the most recent recession, many workers became unemployed and were forced to find temporary, part-time or project work. Employers began to seek part-time or contract workers during the recession to avoid hiring permanent positions, waiting out the economy before hiring full-time. Some of these contingent workers remained as freelancers, while others eventually found full-time employment as the economy began to recover. As a result, more and more workers began to experience the benefits and flexibility that freelancing provided, while companies enjoyed the benefits of hiring contractors as an alternative hiring solution. In addition, with the Internet and cloud-based computing, workers in certain categories can clock in remotely and perform their jobs from anywhere in the world. Thus the new norm has continued to trend toward more contingent workers and fewer full-time employees.

Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Worker:

There are many pros to hiring a freelance worker for your company. Some of the benefits many companies cite include:

  • Low overhead costs: No need for a desk, chair, PC or office supplies for your freelance employee.
  • No benefits required: Companies won’t need insurance, benefits, or paid time off for temporary or contract workers.
  • Worldwide talent pool: Employers can hire the best freelance workers in their industry, or from a particular specialty, rather than relying on a strictly local or regional candidate list.
  • Shorter time to hire: Freelancers are usually ready and available to work immediately, shortening the typical 30-day hire time of full-time employees.
  • Less training needed: Contract workers can generally hit the ground running, and require less training than a full-time hire.
  • Less costly to replace: If a freelance staffer doesn’t work out, employers can easily find another freelancer, as the contractor is not constrained to full-time employment laws.
  • Improved productivity:  Freelance workers are used to working on tight deadlines, and often have faster response times than non-freelance employees, and are motivated to succeed in order to win additional contract work.
  • Flexibility to hire by demand: Freelance workers allow companies to hire based on workload or demand, and provide a temporary solution for companies looking to scale for future growth.

Read our post on how to hire a great virtual assistant.

Benefits for Freelance Workers: 

Although some of the main downsides of freelancing for the average worker include the unpredictable income stream, job security and lack of benefits, freelancing offers many benefits too. These include but are not limited to:

  • No commute: Many freelance workers enjoy working from home and the relaxed atmosphere it brings, and can save hours per day without having to drive or take public transportation into the office. Many contingent workers even enjoy logging in from their local coffee shop.
  • Flexible work hours: In addition to working from home, freelancers can often work during non-traditional hours, including evenings and weekends, allowing for more options to fit families, schedules and travel.
  • Choose your work: As a freelance employee, you have the option to choose the type of work you’re seeking, the employers or projects you’ll take on, as well as the hourly or project rate you’ll charge, which may lead to greater job satisfaction.
  • Work for multiple employers: Many freelance workers choose to not “put all their eggs in one basket” as the saying goes, and instead working on a freelance basis for multiple clients, giving them the chance to build work experience with a variety of clients and in a variety of industries.
  • Increased creativity: For creative professionals such as graphic designers, web developers or writers, freelancing provides an outlet for creative expression, and employers may give freelancers more creative license and independence on certain projects.
  • Manage your workload: Freelancers are more in control of how much work they take on and the income level they desire, meaning that they can increase their workload if they desire or scale back if they become overwhelmed. This is less likely the case when the worker is a full-time employee.

Find out how to get clients as a freelancer.

It’s clear that the job market is moving toward a contingent workforce, and that there are many benefits on both sides of the employer/employee line. Which industries are currently in top demand for freelance talent? The answers won’t surprise you, as these are positions which are conducive to the remote work environment. They include:

  • IT / Technology: Software development, programmers, web developers, mobile application developers
  • Writing: Translators, bloggers, website content providers, marketing / advertising writers
  • Sales and Marketing: sales reps, telemarketing, advertising and marketing consultants, pay-per-click advertising consultants, social media managers
  • Design and Multimedia: graphic design, website design and development, multimedia and application design
  • Administrative Support: virtual assistants, tech support, customer service, data entry

From small, start-up companies to the enterprise-level organization, the expanding freelance market has forever changed the way we work and hire. The more we embrace this change and prepare ourselves for the opportunities it brings, the more we as freelancers and employers can take advantage of its many benefits.

If you are currently looking for effective freelance workers, Hubstaff has a staffing solution. With Hubstaff’s staffing program, all you need to do is describe your project and Hubstaff will find suitable freelance workers for you to interview and decide whether or not you’d like to work with them. There aren’t any obligations and or minimum contracts and it doesn’t cost anything to submit your project to see matching workers.

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