Where 30 years ago university grads were dreaming of finding a stable employer in order to be able to buy a big house, a station wagon and a labrador, today’s youngsters seem to have different ambitions. You see, they aspire to become digital nomads. Basically, the name “digital nomad” is one of those fancy terms used for people who work on a freelance basis and can do so in their bathing suits from a bounty beach in Mexico. All they need in order to get their jobs done, is a computer, an internet connection and a specific skill they excel in. In the United States, a solid 50% of the workforce is expected to be freelancing by 2020. But also in Europe the freelancers are taking over. In the last decade the number of freelancers in the EU has doubled. To illustrate, in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands freelance growth has surpassed traditional employment growth, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed. Let’s take a look at what is going on here.

“A shift in mindset and lifestyle in combination with digitalization, has in turn enabled a shift in the way people work.”​

Why People Freelance
Surprise, surprise, the booming freelance market is mainly driven by Generation Y and Z. Their work/life values are characterized by autonomy, feelings of freedom and by working efficiently. Where working for an employer would require workers to negotiate their asses off to get an extra few holidays or to get that  precious 13th month, freelancing is actually a lot more, well, beneficial. Studies show that the most important benefits of working freelance include:

  • flexibility in one’s work schedule
  • work variety
  • being one’s own boss/working remotely

So what do we see? Simply put, a shift in mindset and lifestyle in combination with digitalization, has in turn enabled a shift in the way people work. Working freelance is no longer something people do because they are forced to do so. Instead, working freelance is something the new workforce desires.

Why Freelancers Get Hired 
As supply of freelance work increases, so does demand (oh how we love good old microeconomics). Although it used to be mostly small business that would allocate jobs to freelancers when they were short of hands, larger companies are becoming more and more dependent on the new workforce now too. In fact, what we are seeing today, is that companies of all shapes and sizes are realizing their full potential by hiring freelancers. So, what’s in it for them? Funnily enough, many of the benefits reported by the freelancers, are also experienced by the employers. Working with freelancers often makes costly trainings irrelevant, eliminates insurances that need to be covered and freelancers tend to be more motivated to deliver high quality work at a faster pace. As such, hiring freelancers allows firms to fulfill tasks for which highly-skilled people are needed, while controlling labor costs. So, both from a supply as well as a demand perspective, flexibility, independence and efficiency seem to be among the key drivers of the booming freelance business. 

The Drawbacks
Unfortunately, not everything is peaches and cream. There are downsides to the new way of working too. A recent study by the Freelance Union shows that freelance workers worry about their income stability, the lack of health-care benefits and paid leave. In fact, the research revealed that 63% of freelancers see themselves forced to touch their savings at least once a month compared to 20% of regular employees. Those concerns do not go unnoticed. Policymakers are starting to respond in their attempts to protect freelancer rights. For example, the EU’s 2020 Entrepreneurships Action Plan aims to remove several of those obstacles in order to foster Europe’s entrepreneurial landscape. As such, despite the drawbacks, the freelance economy seems to have a bright future ahead.  

At Amstel Lab we strongly believe in the power of freelancers too. We have access to highly specialized people in several business fields, which allows us to instantly match the right specialists to the right cases. Curious how we do that? Or in need of getting a job done? Feel free to reach out!

About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through. Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]