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[INFOGRAPHIC] Is Freelancing the New Workforce?

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For most people a job is a place you go and a thing you do that pays you regular wages and benefits. But more and more people are contracting and freelancing. Is this the way of the future?

The growth of the freelance sector is more apparent now than ever before. A recent report done by Freelancers Union shows that 32% of the self-employed workforce has seen an increase in demand for their work. Furthermore, The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 40% of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2020. The 9-5 appears to be slowly becoming a thing of the past. Are you ready to make the change?

Freelancer at Coffee Shop

© Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker

Our friends at Invoice2go put together an infographic on the topic. It’s full of stats and tips from seasoned freelancers and is sure to help out anyone who is looking for a place to start. Take a look, and then scroll further for our commentary.

Freelancing Infographic

© Invoice2Go

Networking, Time Management, and Motivation

Generally speaking the infographic offers good advice. As much as the idea seems contrary to our nature, we need to always be networking. Managing your time is even more important when every second working gets you paid. And of course if you don’t have a way to motivate yourself, you’re not going to succeed by going it alone.

What is perhaps more interesting is the mechanism that was used to create this infographic. The data comes from a crowdsourcing effort. That in itself is great networking, smart time management, and a way to motivate those who contribute.

Trend or Transformation?

Ask any economist, and they will tell you that people tend to pick up more side work whenever they have less confidence in the future of the economy. The opposite is also the case: when people think everything is going great, they take more vacations, work less, and don’t do a lot of freelancing work.

When we use the word “freelancing” we often think of people doing something extra on top of their regular job. Or, it may be a temporary arrangement between jobs. But that’s not necessarily the case any more. In fact, there are millions of people whose sole income is independent contract work. Is that a quirk of the current state of the economy, or a feature that’s here to stay?

In many respects, however, every job is a contract job. When you’re a full time employee, you work under an employment contract. This might be an implied contract or a written job description. It might be a verbal understanding that gets reiterated in periodic reviews. In the case of a sales role, your work contract might be your commission structure. In essence, the contract is: work and you get paid, don’t work and you need to get out.

To understand if this is a real change in the way our economy works, we have to ask the question: who is more productive: salaried employees or contract workers? The answer is not quite as simple as the question. It’s not the classification that forecasts individual productivity, but rather the clarity with which work is defined.

Results Matter Most

One thing that freelancers love is their freedom. But that’s also appreciated by companies that hire freelancers: the freedom to specify exactly what they want and only pay for that. It’s results that matter, not the face-time of employees sitting in chairs.

We will probably have traditional employees going to offices for many decades to come. But it does look like more and more people will be contractors. It looks like our economy is going to move away from the home-commute-work-commute-home pattern. Because, that was the structure that made sense when we didn’t trust people to get things done on their own, and when they couldn’t do much work outside of the workplace any way.

Everything is changing. Pay attention, and adjust accordingly.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
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