Facts you should know about the freelance economy

Freelancing is an increasingly popular trend and if we look at the latest reports and statistics, it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. As talent becomes increasingly mobile, the freelance economy is transforming workplaces and driving companies to tap into a global talent pool and adopt new technologies. More freelance workplaces and crowdsourcing platforms are making it easier for the independent workforce to connect with customers and access jobs. Even greater opportunities are available for freelance professionals with diverse skillsets and expertise.

Here are some more facts and figures that are worth noting in the age of side hustles and moonlighting:

1. Freelancers will represent 40% of the U.S. workforce by 2020

According to a comprehensive study commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork, 55 million Americans have taken the freelancing route in 2016. That’s an increase of two million freelancers since 2014. With more Fortune 500 giants migrating towards a more flexible, on-demand labor model, more people are predicted to join the freelancing workforce by 2020. Eighty-one percent of full-time employees surveyed are also increasingly open to freelancing to supplement their income.

2. Many of today’s freelance jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago

Technology has created and introduced new jobs over the years. Because of the emergence of tech-related companies and industries, the younger workforce is learning technical skills that their parents might not have even heard of. These popular online jobs in 2017 didn’t even exist a decade ago: social media manager, community manager, user experience designer, virtual assistant, web analyst, mobile app developer, and SEO specialist, to name some. Thanks to online platforms like Gengo, remote work is made easier and collaboration is more feasible between companies and location-independent workers.

freelancer jobs

3. Many workers switched to freelancing out of choice, not necessity

Sixty percent of freelancers surveyed in 2016 said they left their traditional jobs and proactively chose to work independently. When asked what they enjoy most about the freelance life, they cited the following main reasons: the flexibility to work whenever and wherever they want, a good work-life balance, and the opportunity to pursue their passions and learn new things. Growing increasingly popular every year, freelancing is also becoming a long-term career path for many.

4. Half of freelancers won’t switch to traditional jobs no matter how much they’re offered

Freelancers feel more positively about their work, particularly full-time freelancers who enjoy the freedom and flexibility of this lifestyle. Most independent workers believe the intrinsic benefits of freelancing outweigh the extrinsic benefits that traditional 9-5 jobs offer. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed also said freelancing is better than having a traditional job. Of those who left a full-time job to freelance, over half say that they now earn more than before.

digital nomads

5. More and more companies are engaging freelancers

The corporate world is embracing freelance management technology. These companies also believe that adopting this technology enhances the attraction, engagement, and retention of talent. Global brands, such as Nintendo, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble are turning to freelance marketplaces to find the talent they need to sustain growth. More enterprises are starting to recognize the benefits associated with an on-demand workforce of highly skilled professionals, including faster service and lower costs.

6. Freelancers are less likely to get sick

With the popularity of the open-plan office layout comes a drawback. Forbes explains that employees in open offices take 62% more sick days than those working in cubicles. Studies also show that the more occupants working in a room, the more sick days those people take. But if you’re working at home, you’re less likely to catch a virus by avoiding offices and daily commutes. Freelancers can also control their workload and limit their working hours, and experience lower stress levels.

7. 66% of freelancers think the amount of work online increased in the past year

The demand for freelance services has increased in the past year in the U.S. alone. Reports say that more freelancers are turning to online sources such as social media, freelance marketplaces, and sharing economy sites, and half of those who obtain freelance work online find them in less than three days. Accessibility of jobs and fast turnaround times continue to drive the steadily growing income of freelancers. Having earned an estimated amount of over $1 trillion in 2016, the majority of freelancers in the U.S. believe there will be more opportunities in the future and that their brightest days are ahead.

What do you think about the future of freelancing? Do you see yourself freelancing for a long time? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Main image from Wikimedia Commons under CC

Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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