Freelancing Becomes the New Normal

man with laptop on the beach

At the age of 26, Naresh Vissa is just like many other millennials in that he has worked for a variety of companies since graduating from business school, which works out just fine for him.

Rather than falling victim to a wobbly — yet highly competitive — job market, Vissa’s situation is reflective of the increasing popularity of freelancers: professionals from a number of different fields who choose short-term work commitments over full-time employment.

Vissa, who works as an independent marketing and publishing consultant, is like many freelancers in that freelancing was a conscious choice. Others may be forced into freelancing after experiencing professional setbacks or because they are unable to find steady employment. Regardless of why they became freelancers, these “solopreneurs,” as they are aptly called, have embraced the perks — and challenges — that come with the lifestyle.

Perhaps one of the most obvious is the ability to work their own terms. Freelancers are able to work wherever and whenever they want. Business casual office attire has given way to t-shirts and jeans worn by telecommuting freelancers as they pound away on their keyboard while sipping fancy coffee drinks in trendy cafes. Considering that 70% of men and 54% of women own more than 10 t-shirts, the growing trend towards telecommuting comes as no surprise.

As for businesses who employ freelancers, they’re just as happy with arrangement too.
“Lots of places hire me for a three-month tryout,” Vissa says. “If they like my work, we can continue the relationship. If not, we part ways.”

According to a 2014 study conducted by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk, an online freelancing resource, freelancers account for nearly 34% of the domestic workforce. This equates to a whopping 53 million workers, which includes 14 million people who “moonlight” (freelancing while also holding down a full-time job) and over five million temp workers. According to Labor Bureau data, the number of employees paid by temp agencies such as Manpower has increased by 46% since 2009.

These figures underscore a growing trend to opt out of the traditional full-time employment that previous generations aggressively pursued and highly valued.

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