How the Freelancing Ecosystem is Shaping Our Society’s Work Culture

How is it that so many companies are hiring but fewer people are applying?

While pandemic regulations may be easing up and more businesses may be back to brick-and-mortar, for some reason people are not that interested applying for 9-to-5 roles. According to the Catalyst, Millennials account for over a third of the US workforce. What is it with this generation that they seem to be disinterested in the jobs Gen X and Baby Boomers typically pursue?

The Great Resignation has affected so many industries. This includes, but not limited to travel and leisure, trade and transportation, and education. A dramatic increase in resignation and lack of job applicants in the healthcare and tech industries is also apparent. While Millennials are not solely responsible for this big challenge in the US labor force, this younger generation is forcing society to rethink the way we do work.

Today corporate philosophy is less about money and job title. Instead, people are choosing opportunities that allow them to have full autonomy on what they do and how they do it. And more importantly, something that won’t interfere with the kind of life they want to live.

Your work is now a two-way street

The old work set-up involved a job description that employers and companies held firmly. It also involved a compensation offer that was firmly held as well. This is the type of setup that today’s large workforce of varying generations is sick and tired of.

Freelancing is a route that offers a two-way street in work. As a freelancer, you and your clients can both negotiate the rates, the project, and the job scope. In freelancing, you can have an open conversation about responsibilities and expectations without feeling icky, awkward, or both.

The freedom to have autonomy in their jobs is one of the most common reasons why people jump ship and explore the world of freelancing. This is where you become a service provider, an entrepreneur, someone who has a voice. You don’t have to be a yes-man. And, you certainly don’t have to worry about pleasing your boss with the fear of getting fired if you do something wrong.

You pave your own path

I remember feeling ashamed in my family for choosing to ditch college. I’m not a school person. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a classroom and listening to someone speak for hours and hours every day — then doing that five days a week for four years. To date, some relatives still can’t bring themselves to be proud of me for my achievements without a college degree.

However, I’ve learned to care less about public opinion. I’ve learned some people won’t understand.

Freelancing is freeing, that way. You can’t really put creative people in a box and expect them to stay there. Their ideas and their will to take risks and try new things are all too strong to stay inside a box. This is something our society’s work culture is experiencing. People don’t simply want a job that pays the bills. People want a job that will let them pave their own path.

If there is one thing Millennials have in common, it is their pursuit for a more meaningful life. When you’re a freelancer, you have the freedom to go out there and find that meaning. You have the freedom to pave your way to whatever brings you joy — build your own business; collaborate with people who are just as amazing as you; work less than 40 hours a week and have more time dedicated to your self-care. In other words, you don’t have to get stuck in a soul-sucking job.

Your dream is the focus

This may sound cheesy but freelancing forces the business culture to shift in big ways. It’s about us just as much as it is about the clients we work with.

There is an anonymous quote I have saved in a screenshots folder that goes: “Your salary is the bribe they give you to forget your dreams.” Some people’s lives are tougher and more complex wherein their only option is to remain with a job they’re not happy in. I have nothing but respect for them.

Still, there are employees who are offered bonuses and other perks to stick with a job they don’t really enjoy. The job where they help the CEO build their dream, while the employees forget their own. Plus, the all too familiar job, where executives are the only ones getting rich and employees receive more workloads on their plates but their salaries remain the same.

The uniqueness of freelancing is that it changes all of that by giving everyone, both the client and the freelancer (a.k.a. you), a space to pursue individual goals and dreams.

The Great Resignation is a time for great creativity. Today’s workers have to unlearn the practice of functioning like robots for 8 hours a day, saying yes to everything their managers say. More and more people are after freedom and balance. Pretty opposite to how we used to adjust our lives to cater to our demanding jobs and schedule.

While freelancing appears easy, it’s not! One thing I always tell fellow freelancers is that you have to work on some major mindset shifts. It’s not easy to shift from becoming an employee to being an entrepreneur and building your own business. Yet, with so much freedom in our hands, and with all the tools available, it’s safe to say the work culture we define will be better.

Tammy Danan

Tammy Danan is a storyteller who reports on environmental and social issues. She also covers productivity, creative pursuits, and the future of work. Her words have appeared in VICE, Audubon.org, ZEKE Magazine, Shutterstock, Toggl, among others. You may find her on Instagram @SlowFreelancing.