Freelance and contract work - The emerging trend

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90% of Australia lives in urban areas with much of that in Sydney and Melbourne alone. Considering Australia is the size of the continental US – there is a lot of untouched land where living is affordable, and a peaceful traffic free life awaits.

That was a primary driver behind the introduction of the National Broadband Network (NBN). To not only increase internet speeds for commercial use, but, to allow un-urbanised populations access to \ remote working opportunities while reducing the stress on our city centres.

The workplace is changing – AI, Globalisation, Outsourcing, Technological improvements – everything is moving towards workplace efficiency, irrespective of the individual worker (more so than ever before).

Workers aren’t necessarily left behind with all this change, there are positives to come out of a freelancing workforce for both employers and individuals. By working remotely or contractually, you may enjoy a cheaper, stress-free and self-managed life.

Here are the factors that have allowed the freelance job market to truly emerge and ways to successfully embrace it:

  1. Technology Improvements

Increasing numbers of freelancers are obtaining work online, with 68 percent believing technology has made it easier to find work. (Herald Sun)

30 years ago, building a website required advanced knowledge of HTML code. Today with CMS platforms such as WordPress, any Joe, Dick and Harry can create a customised website showcasing their portfolio, quite simply and affordably – something perhaps necessary for a freelancer to attract clients.

Another is the rise of accessibility to larger networks of freelancers/contractors through the world wide web. For example, websites such as Upwork, have made it simple to have access to a large pool of diversified workers.

Improvements in technology have also lead to easier management and collaboration with freelancers and clients – think Slack/Jira/Google Drive etc.

  1. Desire to Reduce Emissions

Traffic is a primary driver behind an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions – sitting bumper to bumper with the engine running because we are all working similar hours in the same direction (the CBD).

Governments and organisations are increasingly seeking ways to reduce their global greenhouse footprint and become leaders in environmental change. The promotion of alternative work options is one of many ways to create this revolution.

Working outside of the typical 9-5 arrangement means that peak hour traffic is significantly reduced. Even if you are an in-house contractor, chances are you will have the opportunity to set your own hours and avoid traffic that is adding to the decay of this planet.

Working remotely means the only emissions you create during peak hour is the one from brewing your morning kettle.

  1. Lowering Commute Times Going hand in hand with emissions, on average Australians commute over 53 minutes per day. (ABC)

Our commute time is increasing each year and with it reducing our quality of life, time spent with family and impacting our stress levels.

Having more you-time is one of the key benefits for the worker in terms of remote working opportunities. Your commute time can be shortened from 5 hours per week to 5 steps to your home-office.

  1. Access to a Global Pool of Opportunity

Globalisation tends to be viewed negatively for the individual worker and positive for the organisation. But, having an opportunity to find a global pool of workers also means that people will have the opportunity to find work globally.

For the organisation – this potentially provides a cheaper and higher skilled solution, particularly when it comes to a short-term work project that may not require a full-time option.

For the individual – opportunities may arise outside of the country in more specified areas that perhaps Australia is lacking in.

  1. Annual Leave, Sick Leave and Superannuation

The negatives of freelance/contract work are blatantly obvious. With the most notable being there is no legal requirement to pay annual leave, sick leave as well as superannuation.

This requires initiative by the individual to self-manage those benefits that was once previously provided by companies. In the unfortunate event of injury or illness, it is necessary that with an increase in alternative work situations that people are covered for such events.

  1. Co-working Spaces

The idea of working from home sounds blissful, but, some people genuinely struggle to stay motivated, connected and engaged. Co-working spaces are being created all over the country to combat this.

Co-working spaces provide networking and business opportunities that may otherwise be lost by never leaving the home. Changing your working arrangement won’t necessarily mean shutting yourself off from the world, but, rather be more open to it.

Co-working spaces provide an avenue for collaboration amongst the freelance workforce and access to more clientele.

  1. Reduced Overhead Costs

For businesses, the major benefit to having less in-house workers is low overhead costs, smaller office spaces and an overall reduction in running costs.

Employee costs may also be reduced dependant on if tasks that were once provided by a full-time worker can be substituted for a lower commitment from a contractor.

  1. Payment Security

Working 9-5 and within an employee contract comes with benefits outside of superannuation and paid time off - which is a sense of security.

Typically, your pay check arrives on time and in the right amount. That is not always the case when you are a freelancer or contractor. Invoices being overdue, paid in a lessor amount or not paid at all are very real consequences to not protecting yourself with a contract.

Spend the time, effort and money to create a contract that specifies your invoice requirements.

If working for yourself is meant to come with a reduction in your stress levels, chasing invoices seems pretty counteractive to reducing that.

  1. Workplace Variety

Working mundane and repetitive tasks is a key driver for people leaving the workforce.

As a freelancer or contractor – chances are your day-to-day work would change quite frequently. This allows you to experience a diverse range of industries and truly test out what your passion(s) may be.

Working the hours of 9-5 isn’t for everyone. Some people may be night-owls and more efficient in the evening or afternoon. Working for ‘yourself’, even as a contractor, means you can create your own hours which benefits your personal productivity.

Traveling up or down the coast for a holiday is always peaceful – but what about living there? Availability of technology and working remotely has finally given individuals the opportunity to live in areas of Australia that were never realistic options before.

The positives of job security still often outweigh the benefits of alternative work options for individuals. Yet, worker job security has dropped in recent years, adapting to the coming change may mean the difference between success and failure.