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Why freelancing is the wave of the future

The world of technology has created incredible and unforeseen new opportunities for how we live and work today. Mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data (otherwise known as Gartner’s Nexus of Forces) have led to epic transformations in society. Just think about what’s happened since the release of the iPhone in 2007 a mere 7 years ago!

The changing landscape of work today means that people now increasingly can do their jobs anywhere, anytime, and anyhow they wish. Breakthroughs in communication technologies have been a key enabler of this trend. Thanks to computers, smartphones, email, instant messaging and video-conferencing, workers today have access to multiple ways to fulfill their job responsibilities without commuting to the office. The implications of these new technologies are profound from an economic standpoint and are leading to significant new ways of thinking about the world of work.




Enter the new global online worker. Freelancing is a growing new economic reality and more and more attention is being focused on the benefits of the online working revolution. A recent study shows that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. workforce, or 53 million, are freelancers; estimates are that this number will grow to comprise 50% by the year 2020.

In a 2012 survey of 1,500 business owners, Elance, a website that matches employers with employees who can work remotely, noted that nearly 75% of businesses surveyed planned to hire more online freelancers than the previous year. Respondents also estimated that 54% of their workforce would be online by 2017.

Companies like oDesk, the world’s largest online staffing portal, have provided a major impetus to the work from home trend. With a network of over 3 million active freelancers, oDesk is a global job marketplace that provides collaboration tools for online workers to undertake jobs ranging from web development to graphic design to administrative support. oDesk also reached a major milestone in August 2013 when it announced it had done $1 Billion of brokered work since its founding in 2003. By 2018 the online work market is expected to be $5 Billion annually.

One of the biggest factors behind the growth of freelancing work is that it makes so much economic sense for businesses. Hiring freelancers translates into considerable cost reductions and benefits. This savings comes in the form of savings in real estate, office equipment, utilities, electricity, not to mention health insurance and retirement costs so often associated with the regular employee contract.




Another reason why freelancing work is expanding so rapidly has to do with the explosive growth in mobile, cloud, and information technologies. Not only do we see the massive influx of digital tools and resources that have made online freelancing possible, but emerging technologies will continue to transform, disrupt, and even threaten the future of work as we know it. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation, and smart machines are all in the process of making certain jobs obsolete. As businesses prepare and adjust to the growing digital workforce, more options will be made available to freelancers and online consultants. The following blurb explains the changing realities of work:

Consultants and freelancers are cheaper than full-time staffers with benefits, software developers overseas cost a fraction of what they cost in the U.S. and, by 2030, robots will be able to perform most manual labor . . . Even employees who are employed in large corporations are encouraged to be “intrapreneurs,” meaning that they are in many cases given company time to come up with disruptive ways of thinking about corporate organization and practices.

We are indeed entering the era of BYOW – or “Bring Your Own Worker” as the mindset shifts from the company as a parent to one as a partner.

The world of work continues to change and become more digitized. As business competition becomes more fierce, regular day job employees today will need to think and act innovatively and brainstorm new ideas and ways of doing business in order to keep their job skills updated and relevant.




The freelancing revolution is going strong and will become a viable option for more and more skilled workers. Rising costs also make online work a nice form of supplemental income. If not already, chances are good that you too will end up freelancing at some point in the near future. It’s a great gig and can provide extra financial stability in today’s unpredictable and shifting economy.

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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called virtupresence.com, along with oversight and leadership of startuplabs.co - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.