Questions about freelancing before and after a pandemic
“I would never work as a freelancer because I need job security.”
“All those work from home websites are scams.”
“Only sketchy companies hire freelancers.”
“What about insurance, retirement plans, and vacation days?”
But the tides have changed. Our recent pandemic has taught us that having a back-up plan or side hustle isn’t that bad of an idea.
Those same people who doubted your career choices may be now returning to you, pumping you for information on how to get started. Why are people more open to the idea of freelancing now?
We have our theories:
1. American workers are frightened.
Before the pandemic, most American workers enjoyed a sense of job security. They quickly realized how dispensable they were when employers furloughed millions of workers across the country. Amazingly, it wasn’t just the “non-essential workers” who were sent home. Medical staff has been furloughed in some parts of the country too.
The promise of job security suddenly has gone out of the window. Those who called you crazy for not earning the same amount of money each week now realize that they had a false sense of security in their jobs.
2. More people understand the benefit of hiring freelancers.
Hiring full-time staff is a big deal for small businesses. A lot of time and money is spent on recruiting. And those new hires often are unable to hit the ground running. More time and money needs to be spent on onboarding and training. Plus, the company needs to pay for additional office space, cell phones, laptops, insurance, vacation days, etc.
As small businesses tentatively begin to make plans for the future, they may be less likely to hire full-time workers. Instead, they may see the benefit of commissioning work on an as-needed basis until the economy settles.
You can’t blame those business leaders. Even though many are optimistic that things will return to normal, no one wants to hire additional staff only to realize that the virus will return in force next winter.
3. Workers understand the importance of diversification.
Most people work in or support one specific industry. They are in banking, education, travel, agriculture, or healthcare. They take pride in their knowledge, and when they look for new jobs, they may limit their search to their current company’s competitors.
Although many freelancers specialize in certain industries, it may have taken time for them to find their niche. In the meantime, many of them found themselves supporting industries and businesses unknown to them.
The recent pandemic harmed some industries more than others. Freelancers who had a lot of pans on the fryer may not have been affected if they lost one travel-industry client as long as they still were able to work for their clients working in plumbing or personal law.
4. More Americans see the benefit of working from home.
For members of the older generation, the idea of “working from home” seems suspect. For them, “work” means getting up before daybreak to dress in work-appropriate clothes. “Work” means fighting through traffic and 30-minute lunch breaks. “Work” means taking the afternoon off for dentist appointments and getting your oil changed in your car.
But now, workers who never had the opportunity to conduct business from home realize that it can be done. They recognize the amount of time they are saving by not having to iron their clothes and drive through traffic. They see the benefits for the first time in their lives of having a flexible schedule.
And even though they may miss interacting with some of their coworkers, these older employees may feel relief at finally having a break from an annoying officemate. Even though there are staff meetings over Zoom, they find they can multitask during them.
More than anything else, they see that working from home enables them to stay safe during a pandemic.
Your aunt, who has been working in a downtown office building for thirty years? The one who would look at you with disgust when you admitted to wearing sweats every day? She gets it now. She understands that not only work can get done at home, but it is a preferable experience to going into an office every day.
What does a freelancer do when those doubters ask for advice on how to start a side hustle? Of course, that’s up to you to decide. But you may find yourself with such an abundance of projects that you don’t have time to chat.
This article was originally posted at Freelancing Buzz.