Enterprises everywhere are looking for talent. And those with talents and skills that are in high demand can pretty much control their work life: where they work, how they work, compensation packages, and a host of other specifications about their work life.
This is a huge opportunity for freelancers, if they keep current with demand and continue to enhance and expand their skills. Some, in fact, are predicting that, by 2027, the majority of the workforce will be comprised of freelancers, not regular, traditional employees.
I have my predictions too for the future of freelancing and these are many. Here the three most important ones.
1. Blockchain will become a large factor in freelance work life
Most freelancers do not fully understand blockchain, other than the fact that it is the technology behind the rising cryptocurrency markets. But blockchain holds great promise for many other sectors of the economy, and freelancers will benefit from it. Here are several benefits that this technology can bring to the freelance work environment.
Smart contracts. Freelancers depend on legal contracts with their clients. Those contracts are the basis for the breadth and scope of the work the freelancer will perform and the amount of payment he will receive. However, 58% of freelancers still don’t get paid for their work and almost 50% of freelancers report consistent problems with getting paid on time.
Recording and storing contracts in an immutable public ledger, through blockchain, can eliminate disputes or tampering with the details of that contract. The “he said, she said” scenario can be eliminated for good.
The other aspect of smart contracts can provide for an automatic payment once the job is completed. So, a contract may read, “When X is delivered to (client), a payment of (amount) will be sent to (freelancer). These contracts streamline the process for payment, and the terms are securely stored.
Proof of work. When a freelancer completes a project, he can record that project on a blockchain where it will be permanently and immutably stored. This is absolute proof that the project has been completed and will eliminate any concern for theft of work, intellectual property, etc. All blockchain transactions are date and time-stamped. The old copyright and patent systems will be transformed into a clean, streamlined process of recording and storing.
Money transfers. Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that supports them do not rely on any traditional or central bank. When payments to freelancers must go through traditional banking systems, there are fees, and some of them can be quite substantial. Even when a fiat currency is deposited into a freelancer’s PayPal account, there is a fee involved. Transfers through cryptos come with only marginal fees, and the freelancer thus keeps more of what he has earned. This also helps freelancers in developing countries where receiving payment for work done is hard.
Business opportunity for tech-savvy freelancers. Blockchain is already in use, at least in pilot stages, in government, in healthcare, travel, insurance and financial services industries. Over the next decade, public and private blockchain technology will continue to expand. Today blockchain specialists are already in high demand, and the need for them will only keep growing.
Advertising. Freelancers must market themselves, and this has always been a process of researching the most suitable venues and places, contacting the ad sellers, arranging for advertising contracts, and attempting to learn which of those platforms is actually working. Blockchain, along with AI, can provide a solution. Right now, Ubex, a company offering a decentralized advertising exchange, is providing AI data and recommendations for its clients, so that they can have a scientific approach to ad placement, as well as smart contracts for those campaigns. Advertising dollars can be much better spent.
2. City-to-city competition will change
Traditionally, cities compete with one another when a large enterprise announces that it is looking for a new headquarters or a major sub-headquarters. This competition is for good reason. Where the company locates means more growth for that city, especially in terms of employment.
This concept is gradually giving way, as freelancers with talent choose to stay where they are and work remotely. And more and more enterprises are embracing the concept. Cities no longer will vie for that corporate headquarters. Instead, they will compete to provide the best work environment for freelancers – lots of high tech innovations, green spaces, opportunities for lifestyle preferences, etc.
3. Freelancers will finally unite in demands
Currently, freelancers are “victims” of a lot of “abuse” on the part of employers. The scope of their work is increased without new pricing negotiations; employers are notoriously slow to pay. There are no health insurance or retirement benefits built into contracts. This is because freelancers do not have the legal and employment status that traditional, regular employees have.
This is beginning to change as governments – local, state, and national – come to see the gaps for this growing population of talent that is contributing to their economies. Over the next decade, expect that freelancers will continue to press their legislators for improved status in the workforce.
Aside from these three predictions, other innovations, technology, and continued changes in how we view the workforce as a whole, will bring more changes for freelancers. Those who stay abreast of evolving concepts and needs for talent and skills will have lucrative careers.