Economies are cyclical and as sure as night follows day, a recession will always follow a period of economic boom. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a different type of economy; one half in recession (hospitality, etc.) while many professional/office-based businesses have for the most part seen little long-term negative effects.
Despite the economic setbacks, the Professional Freelance / Contractor sector is showing several signs that those choosing to work as Independent Professionals will continue to rise and be more widely used by companies of all sizes.
Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Typically, when employment is high, the use of Freelancers or Contractors drops. Companies employ all the skills and workers they need. Then, in a recession, as employees are laid-off, the number of contract/project roles increases (which in turn drives up the numbers of contractors/freelancers doing this work).
According to Jimmy Sheehan, Managing Director of Contracting PLUS (Umbrella company services and accountants to Independent Professionals)
“When the number of independent workers spiked during the 2008 recession, the numbers didn’t start to drop again as the economy recovered. In fact, the numbers continued to grow every year. At the end of 2020 we had more freelancers/contractors using our Umbrella Company services than we did at the end of 2019 before we’d even heard of Covid. But it wasn’t a spike like in normal recessions – it was a continual steady growth on a similar trajectory to recent years”.
So, it seems Covid had a neutral effect on existing freelancers, with more opting to enter this now normal way of working.
From time to time, companies will require specialised skills, or need a particular skillset for a full-time basis for say 3 months, but then not at all for another 3 months, and then again on a part-time basis for 6 months, etc. You’re not going to find an employee willing to work on a start/stop basis.
Similarly, it’s not always easy to find specialised skills. Talented workers are scarce and finding and hiring the right person can be a costly endeavour.
Freelancers however can be engaged on an ‘as-needed’ basis. More and more businesses are recognising the benefits freelancers can provide. Facing an uncertain future, businesses are shifting their strategies to become more agile.
Freelancers are increasingly becoming the solution they are looking for.
Those who choose to be Freelancers are drawn to the autonomy, control, and flexibility independent work provides.
Ireland has a particularly nascent freelance economy as baby-boomers carry on a flexible career post-retirement while Millennials and Gen Z have embraced the ‘work to live’ ethos.
The forced remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic has brought that independent/freelance work to the front of many people’s minds as they consider the restrictions to personal time inflicted by a return to a 9-5 Monday to Friday office environment.
Anyone choosing to become a freelancer today has easy and affordable access to a suite of services making it easier than ever for Freelancers to succeed while at the same time giving the companies engaging the freelancer the peace of mind to ensure they are compliant in their engagement protocols.
For example, A Freelancer can post their skills and experience and market themselves on Jellow.
They can be set up to work as a self-employed company director at no cost using the services of Contracting PLUS. The company engaging the freelancer/contractor will receive (from Contracting PLUS) a compliance pack which includes things like confirmation of tax clearance, certificate of commercial insurances and a tailored contract for services. Risk is minimised.
Side Hustles supplement income
There are thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of highly talented employees who are in middle-management jobs with stagnant wages and no real prospects or opportunities of substantially increasing their earnings in a salaried role. Childcare costs, property costs, general living costs all reduce the ability to save for big occasions or increase discretionary spend.
Freelance working allows people meet these near-term costs while companies benefit from having projects completed by skilled individuals keen to make a good impression and generate excellent reviews which in turn leads to more work for them.