From Globalisation 2.0 to shifting demographics, the world is changing and it’s changing fast.  Workplaces are fragmenting and hierarchies are flattening. Just think about your own career.  Until recently, you would have expected to have just one profession and perhaps only one employer in your working life.  Now, you can expect to have multiple roles – a so-called 'portfolio career'.  And you are not alone, men and women, of all ages and at all levels, are seeking greater control and flexibility over how, where and who they work for.

Supply and demand

One result of this change has been the move towards project-based working and the rise of the professional freelancer – both of which will shape the world of work for years to come.  In the past, the number of freelancers would increase as the economy slowed and those left without permanent employment needed to find work.  But as the economy started to grow, freelancing used to decrease, as permanent roles became available.  But this time, things have changed: the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals a steady increase in the number of people working freelance despite improvements in the economy.  In fact, there's a 38 per cent rise in under-30s turning to freelancing since 2008 and a 25 per cent rise in mothers working freelance. 

So, while this trend started due to the need to find creative solutions to new challenges in the downturn, it has continued through the recovery and freelancing is now cemented as a valid and respected career choice.  Our experience is that professionals are now more open to freelancing as a possible career path and businesses are taking a more positive view of those who have followed a diverse and varied career.  Freelancing is now a proactive choice for those who want to march to the beat of their own drum. 

Alongside the upsurge in supply, we’re also seeing greater demand from businesses.  Our clients are telling us that they are increasingly using flexible resources and project-based freelancers as part of their strategic planning, as opposed to simply in response to a crisis.  What's more, they see it as a source of competitive advantage – allowing them access to a wide pool of skills on a cost effective basis.

In part two of this blog series I will be discussing the skills you need to be a successful freelancer.