Freelancer Tech & Workplace Impact
Millennials are embracing freelancing and remote work more than any other generation. Whether it's because of the lack of steady jobs available or the perks of setting your own working hours, it's attracting Millennials in droves.
Now that we make up the majority of the workforce, the way we want to work is changing the workplace for everyone else.
From technology to employee benefits and even company structures, Millennials have unabashedly ushered in the future of work.
Millennials Are More Likely to Have Flexible Location Benefits and Freelance Roles
According to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 64% of Millennials around the world have flexible location benefits - up by 21% from 2016. And in a 2017 survey conducted by Upwork, almost half of working Millennials freelance (47%), more than any other generation.
But without technology, Millennials would still be chained to a desk in a brick and mortar office like everyone else.
There is hardly a millennial today who does not have their own personal website or blog on platforms like WordPress. Thanks to apps like Slack, communication with remote team workers is seamless. With millennials and freelancers relying more on email than ever before, inbox management systems like Mailbird are crucial to staying productive. Google Docs allows for seamless collaboration, and you can find clients and build a business with just a social media account.
The Gig Economy and Technology
Gone are the days of asking "Where do you work". Today, it's all about "What are you working on?". UpWork estimates that there are 53 million freelancers in the US, who make up 34% of the workforce.
But the problem with the gig economy is that it's not a stable source of income. Most freelancers hop from job to job and rely heavily on technology to be able to earn a salary every month. In fact, 71% of freelancers in 2017 found their next gig online.
Whether it's creating a lead magnet website, scouring UpWork for potential gigs or using apps to stay productive, without technology the booming gig economy we have today wouldn't exist.
Remote workers also tend to work longer hours. When you don't have a stable income each month, working 9 to 5 doesn't exist. It means you have to hustle until the wee hours of the morning or waking up early for a Skype call with a client halfway around the world.
Freelancers Need To Be Adaptable and Wear Many Hats
When you're a freelancer who works remotely, being adaptable is crucial to success. Whether you're a front-end developer, web designer or social media manager, you quickly realise that you need to do more than just your job title to stay afloat. Most freelancers run a one-person show, and that means they have to get in the sales, market themselves and stay on top of their bookkeeping for tax season.
If you can't afford to expand your team, the only person you can delegate things to is yourself.
With so much more to do, many freelancers are turning to technology to solve their productivity crisis.
This has led to the increase in integrations. Millennials want to manage their bookkeeping with a chrome extension and organise their projects without hopping between applications. They don't want a silo solution. They want one that fits in with their busy lives seamlessly and requires the least amount of admin.
Where We Work Is No Longer a Fixed Location
With more millennials becoming freelancers and pushing for remote work policies, it's changing our perception of where work happens.
Co-working spaces are popping up all over the world. In fact, it's estimated that there are more than 20,000 offices worldwide and counting.
Work from home policies are becoming the norm. With the roads in our cities becoming more congested, and both parents wanting careers, companies are under pressure to cater to this growing trend and to help rapidly expanding cities. Some organisations like Buffer, Mailbird and Automattic are already 100% remote with their teams scattered across the globe.
Digital nomad retreats have seen a spike in popularity over the last few years. Remote workers get to spend a month living in a different country while networking with like-minded individuals and scaling their business. It's the epitome of the Millennial dream. And it's all thanks to technology that we can choose to live our lives on these terms.
Fast, reliable Wifi is available in almost every country. You can have a Skype call on the beach in the Bahamas and answer an email while wandering the streets of London.
Millennials Are All About The Side Hustle
Millennials are a generation of entrepreneurs.
We have managed to figure out how to make an income from almost any new piece of tech. YouTube has turned kids into millionaires. Bloggers are raking in six figures. Influencers are the new celebrity. Homeowners are generating a passive income from Airbnb, and online experts are selling their knowledge on sites like Udemy and Skillshare. As more and more jobs become automated with machines, the ability to figure out new ways to make money from technology is crucial.
In a 2017 study by Upwork, 65% of full-time freelancers are updating their skills to evolve compared to only 45% of full-time employers. With the number of jobs shrinking, staying upskilled is the only way of staying relevant in the workforce. 45% of freelancers have already indicated that their workload has been affected by AI compared to only 18% of non-freelancers.
This shows that freelancers are more aware of job transformation and have the entrepreneurial spirit to adapt and survive disruptions in the workforce.
Remote Work and Technology Go Hand in Hand
Despite the longer working hours and lack of job security, Millennials are still confident about this new way of working.
69% agree that perceptions of freelancing as a career are more positive and is also respected with leading professionals jumping on board with remote, distributed, freelance work setups.
As we enter what some are calling the Fourth Industrialization, we need millennials to carry on working with technology to create a sustainable and independent work economy.