The freelance, or ‘gig’ economy has expanded hugely in recent years with the number of people choosing a freelance career representing something of a modern day industrial revolution.

In the UK, the ‘Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce in 2016’ report published by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) revealed there are two million freelancers.

The IPSE says the number of freelancers in the country increased by 43% between 2008 and 2016 and they contribute about £119bn to the UK economy. The gender split is 59% male and 41% female.

Freelancers are the fastest-growing group of the wider 4.8m self-employed population, and represent 6% of the UK workforce. 

When the financial crash hit in 2008 many employers looked for more flexible and agile, project based hiring options when recruiting staff.

Shib Mathew is CEO of YunoJuno, a platform that connects experienced freelance professionals in the technology and creative industries with employers that need their talents.

He says the expansion in the freelance economy gives employers more freedom over how they find the talent they need to meet peaks and troughs in demand. For workers, it is about wanting more self-determination in how, when and where they work.

“For the good part of my working career, ‘freelancing’ was a dirty word. A freelancer walking the corridors of a creative or tech studio would be met with suspicious eyes. Now, thankfully, this perspective has evolved for the better!” says Mathew. 


Changing attitudes


Mathew says there has been a fundamental change in attitude, with freelancers more valued today than ever before for the skills and experience that they bring to projects.

“Companies appreciate the benefits of hiring freelancers and workers see freelancing as, not only a way to boost their earnings, but as a way to improve their own craft because they get to work with different clients.”

Freelancers enable companies to manage risk while still being innovative.

Employers, whether in the creative industries, IT, engineering, finance or in the public sector, are choosing freelancers because they need people who can perform immediately and meet deadlines.

In many industries, companies are building a trusted pool of freelancers that they can dip into as and when certain skills are required. Over time, the freelancers get to understand the company culture and its brand.


Friction for freelance


There are challenges for employers when it comes to bringing in freelance talent.

There can be issues around trust and delivery and concerns over whether the person being brought in understands the company’s ethos and can work collaboratively with the internal team.

“In staffing any project - whether that be with existing, permanent staff or this new breed of contingent specialists - removing the friction between people and resources as well as internal processes is key to delivering on a successful project. Engaging a freelancer but not having the mechanisms in place to ensure they are working to their strengths and experience – the very things you are paying for, will absolutely effect the outcome of any project,” says Mathew.


The freelance spirit


So what makes a good freelancer?

For an increasing number of people, freelancing is an opportunity to be entrepreneurial.

A successful freelancer, says Mathew, needs to be strong at marketing themselves, be a self-starter and understand that their reputation is everything. They must also be adaptable, have strong communication skills and be able to manage their time effectively.

The freelance economy will grow as employers crave more flexibility over how and when they hire.

The YunoJuno model allows employers to have direct conversations with freelancers who can then be open and transparent about the project at hand. “This has proven to be both a real breath of fresh air as well as a catalyst for change for employers and freelancers alike,” says Mathew.

“When moving from project to project, employer to employer, the modern freelancer gets to see a variety of team structures and delivery methods,” says Mathew. “In doing so, they become inherently aware of how long it’s going to take to slot their piece into the project jigsaw.”

Freelancers also tend to be excellent problem solvers because they will often have faced similar dilemmas working on projects for a variety of clients.

The growth in the gig economy will gather pace as more people take control of their professional and personal lives and employers crave more flexibility over how and when they hire the talent they need.

Learn more about YunoJuno

What started as a platform to connect the greatest freelancers with a handful of forward- thinking companies is now changing how the creative and tech industry resource their business and manage their workforce.