Why Freelancing Is An Attractive Option For Highly Skilled Workers

Over the past several years, the corporate landscape has changed dramatically. We’ve seen a shift towards remote options, flexible work and a desire for individuals to have more control over their careers. So, it’s no surprise to see another trend emerge—the rise in freelancing. According to Upwork’s 10th annual study, Freelance Forward: 2023, freelancing hit an all-time high. This group now comprises 38% of the U.S. workforce, an increase of 4 million professionals from 2022. Freelancers also contributed $1.27 trillion to the U.S. economy, a 78% increase from 2014. By 2028, it’s estimated that the number of U.S. freelancers will reach a whopping 90.1 million.

Being a freelancer offers countless benefits. You can choose your clients and projects, giving you more control over your career and schedule. Because you are your own boss, you also have the potential for higher earnings. Most importantly, you are more likely to enjoy a healthy work-life balance while having the freedom you deserve. For employers, freelancers represent a more cost-effective way to access specialized talent. They give organizations the flexibility to scale up or down as needed, which is especially beneficial in an unstable market.

There’s no doubt that freelancing has become a viable option for skilled workers. In fact, nearly half of all freelancers provide services like marketing, IT and business consulting. Let’s take a deeper look at why more professionals are embracing this trend and what the future holds.

Traditional jobs lack security

A few reasons people favor 9-5 jobs over working independently include job security and a steady paycheck. However, with layoffs sweeping the globe, particularly in the tech sector, those perceptions are changing. Traditional jobs aren’t a safe bet anymore. Based on the latest survey conducted by MBO Partners, State of Independence in America 2023, confirms that 66% of independent workers agreed to feel more secure working for themselves.

Professionals want flexibility

Many people don’t want to be confined to a 9-5 job. While salary is important, remote options and work-life balance are becoming a higher priority. Not only do American workers want flexibility in where they work, but they also want flexibility in when they work. Some examples include choosing their hours and four-day work weeks. Flexible work schedules are a win-win for both parties. They positively impact mental health, while research shows that companies embracing it see a boost to their bottom line.

Employers are embracing the freelance revolution

Companies are relying on freelancers like never before for short and long-term projects. One reason is that it gives businesses hiring flexibility. That makes it easy to cut expenses or ramp up to meet demand as needed. It’s also an economical way to secure talent with specialized expertise. Additionally, freelancers typically don’t need extensive training and can be brought on quickly to make an immediate impact. Organizations also see freelance talent as a way of improving efficiency while promoting diversity.

Fractional work is increasingly popular in the C-Suite

Increasingly, C-suite roles are being filled by fractional (another word for freelance) workers. They can include CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and other high-level employees. This trend makes sense, given that there’s also been an increase in freelancers with post-graduate degrees. According to a 2021 analysis, 35% of freelancers had a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. compared to 51% of freelancers who had a post-graduate degree that same year. Freelance C-level executives are often sought to fill leadership gaps or provide short-term assistance during a transition such as a merger or acquisition. It’s also a good way for companies to engage in a less risky trial period before a long-term contract is considered. For professionals, fractional work provides career growth, flexibility and exposure to various industries.

Perceptions of freelancing are changing

The pandemic shifted attitudes towards salaries and benefits. Work-life balance and professional development opportunities are now prioritized over fancy job titles. People want to feel inspired and in control of their future. Consequently, perceptions of freelancing as a career are becoming more positive.

Freelancing isn’t just a trend; it’s a shift in how we work and live. As non-linear careers become the norm and more people crave the freedom of being their own boss, we’ll continue to see professionals embrace this new lifestyle.

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