De-bunking Myths about Freelancing

By: Flexing It, 9/05/2013

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While freelancing is making inroads as one of the preferred modes of employment in developed economies like the USA, it’s still in its nascent stages in India. According to a recent report published by Elance, companies globally are going to hire twice as many freelancers in 2013 as compared to the previous year.  Unfortunately, there are still certain stereotypes attached to freelancing which we will attempt to dispel below using some data!

  1. Freelancing is primarily for women - There may be some logic to this common fallacy as it is often thought that women would benefit the most from flexibility in order to balance their personal and professional life. According to our own data, at Flexing it, 60% of our registered professionals are male. 
  2. Freelancing works for tech and content work that can be done remotely - Historically, the technology and creative fields have been ones where flexible work structures have been adopted and been successful. But with the increasing importance of start ups and SME’s in the economy, there is a growing need for creative ways for qualified professionals to work with these growth organisations without having a very high cost involved. Also, in an environment of job cuts and budget freezes, even larger employers are looking to consultants, contractors and part-time resources to help fill key roles to deliver results. At Flexing it, our own data indicates openness to more flexible models of working across sectors - professional services, development, healthcare, financial services, education/training and IT are some of the top industries represented. We are also seeing assignments in mainstream professions as well including finance, marketing, strategy/business development, HR and others!
  3. Freelancing is for professionals who are not serious about their careers- This is a common belief triggered by the fact that freelancing is about flexibility in terms of one’s time. So, while one can play golf in the middle of the day or take multiple vacations in the year, the underlying fact is that flexible working is not for everyone. It requires strict discipline and ownership of one’s work. One has to have excellent time management skills, and the ability to work on often short deadlines as well as the ability to multi-task. One also needs to be self-motivated and driven. At Flexing It nearly 70% of the professionals that have signed up are seasoned professionals with more than 10 years of experience in areas such as strategy consulting, marketing, HR, finance and manufacturing, across diverse industries.
  4. Freelancing does not pay well- Globally according to the Elance report, 57% of freelancers reported an increase in earnings by working with businesses online. In addition, 19% said they more than doubled their freelance income in the past year. The uncertainty in the global economy is clearly not impacting online work as 42% of freelance workers claim that they are getting hired for more jobs. Similar data is unavailable for India due to lack of any formal research (we will try and address this gap over the coming months!) but our experience is that this varies by type of organisation. The larger organisations are now developing very transparent and formal bands for flexible work as well and we hope to see greater structure in this space going forward.
  5. Freelancing is an option only when one is unable to find full time work-  According to the MBO partners report published in September 2012 more than half of independent workers (57% in 2012 versus 55% in 2011) say it was their proactive choice to become an independent worker. More and more professionals want to take charge of their own careers for multiple reasons – greater control, better work-life balance, pursuit of other ventures or passions! An interesting trend we are seeing is entrepreneurs ‘Flexing It’ in the early stages of new ventures to have regular income flowing in while their ideas mature and take shape! 

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