Everyone has dreams; travelling, walking red carpets, climbing Mt Everest and running their own business. People are spending less time in offices and the workplace is slowly but surely changing. The number of start-ups and freelancing positions are on the rise. People are doing away with the nine to five grind with professionals choosing to get “gigs” on their own terms and big companies are on board. This is changing the workplace dynamic and the idea of “traditional” employment.

Reasons why people choose freelancing

Workers choose to freelance for any number of reasons and in the weak job market today, fresh graduates are finding it difficult to find steady, full-time employment. Companies seem to prefer taking chances on older workers with more experience and graduate employment levels went from 80% in 2010 to 73% in 2014. So how can they compete?

The younger generations seem to be confronting this problem by choosing freelance work as a viable career option. In 2013 ELance.com conducted a study which found 29% of graduates they interviewed had “gigging” as a part of their five-year plan mostly due to flexibility and better work/life balance, along with earning the same, if not more money than what a “traditional” job can offer. Over a quarter of the graduates also stated that freelancing gave them the power to be their own boss.

Reasons why companies choose freelancers

But what if you needed someone to be your boss for a short amount of time? Why would a company even consider outsourcing workers if they already have reliable staff on hand?  One reason is the thing that graduates seem to struggle with in the current market; experience. A freelancer with a varied portfolio would have the knowledge and the means to deliver work pertinent to the project assigned to them. Fast turn-around time is another. Freelancers keep different hours and don’t work in a traditional office, so they aren’t distracted by boardroom politics and they understand the importance of a deadline. According to AllBusiness.com, on the financial side of things, it is cheaper to hire a freelancer for the X amount of hours of work they do, compared to a full-time salaried employee. There is no overtime, paid vacation days or sick leave to count, either.

What this means for the workforce

So what does this mean for the workforce today? Studies have shown that in 2014, 30% of Australian workers are now freelancers, 58% of them saying they chose their current career. Brian Rashid at Forbes.com estimates the American gig economy will make up 50% of the labour market by 2020. This means that the “rational model” of working one job and one career path until retirement is dying, with workers preferring to follow their passions instead slaving away at an eight-hour day until they mummify at their desk.

The age of the freelancer has dawned in a world linked by technology, making it easier to find employment, especially for young graduates who have the unfortunate situation of entering the real world with crummy job prospects. The freelance market is attractive for balancing work and play as well as dictating your own terms and hours. Companies that hire freelancers are hopping on board when they need to get work done faster; they cannot rely on employees to focus on the task at hand instead of office gossip. The workforce, in turn, is changing with the number of contractors expected to make up half of the market in America by the new decade. People are choosing the zest for life route instead of the death-by-desk option, making the idea of “living the dream” much more tangible.