Robyn Thekiso delivered a talk at Madex 2018, entitled “Freelancing is the Future”. This blog expands on this topic.
Evolution is generally accepted as the physical process, over extended periods of time, that enhances survival and reproduction traits to become more common in successive generations of a population. On a psychological level, we ascribe adaptability as our yardstick to embrace changing circumstances that are common cause in everyday life. It’s clear that, as human beings, change is inevitable, yet it’s a construct that’s often fraught with resistance and negativity.
If we look at the concept of change in terms of the economic landscape in South Africa, with extremely high levels of unemployment and no effective turnaround strategy to date, we have to find creative solutions to turn the tide with short-term impact and long-term success. Whether we embrace it or not, digital adoption and transformation is a reality. Those businesses and entrepreneurs who value and prioritise technology will be welcomed into the winners’ circle.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is unlike any other in our history, with rapid technological breakthroughs that can literally make one’s head spin. The Internet has changed our lives irrevocably and we’ve not only shrunken the global village, but we’ve also brought it into the palm of our hands making us fully mobile. In the business world, it opens up exciting opportunities. However, there are still some structural barriers (affordability of technology, hardware and access to WIFI) and more importantly, resistance from established sectors. Particularly those that have created and entrenched their monopolies during the previous industrial revolution.
With rampant technological advancement, we’re increasingly witnessing a decline in the need to be present at a specific, fixed location for work. In some instances, humans will eventually be redundant. There is every indication that independent consulting, or freelancing, is on the rise across the globe but we still find that businesses, in the main, want a workforce that travels to a location and clocks in from 9 to five, even though the 8-hour work day was created to address working conditions of the 1900s.
In times of austerity with rising costs and scarcity of jobs, freelancers are hardest hit being the easiest to ‘let go’ with ‘no strings attached’. This phenomenon confounds enterprise efficiency and logic. Many businesses, particularly those in the services sector, are hampered by high overhead costs, rent, parking, equipment and so on, which not only drives costs up, it inevitably leads to retrenchments which are costlier and devastating in the long run. Freelancing provides a win-win solution for both parties.
Here is an outline of some of the advantages freelancing presents for both business and individuals.
A reduction in overhead costs makes a business more agile and enables improved cash flow and profitability. This brings a concomitant reduction in administration and HR requirements; you will still have legal obligations for contracting though.
In tough economic times, you’re better equipped to deal with ebbs and flows. You can increase and/or decrease your resource base in significantly shorter timeframes. However, the challenge is to establish a reliable source of talented professionals that can service your needs.
Innovation is driven by diversity and if you access the appropriate talent pool, you can explore and interact with various individuals to meet your specific business needs and change them, as required.
Freelancers understand the need to continually reinvent themselves and usually outperform their employed counterparts, giving you the best quality service. They are also not bogged down by office politics and the humdrum of admin making it easier for them to act as ‘outsiders’ providing objectivity coupled with a keen understanding of your brand, ethos, operations and so on.
Lastly, freelancing also gives business the opportunity to afford highly skilled labour that may be prohibitive on a fixed cost. And you can measure output with clear expectations and deliverables which can be reviewed at your convenience.
It goes without saying that, especially with rising fuels costs, not having to travel daily to a specific destination and saving hours spent in traffic, is one of the most obvious advantages. This also brings greater flexibility and time management. And everyone knows that creatives are not always the most productive during the day.
Whilst employment provides the security of a regular income, to some extent, it can limit creativity and freedom. Freelancing allows one to take on work and projects that are more suitable and enjoyable. You also get to choose who you work with by collaborating with other like-minded individuals and in so doing, expand your network.
Spreading your risk by not keeping all your eggs in one basket is highly advisable, especially during turbulent economic times. Freelancing, therefore, becomes an entry into entrepreneurship as it’s easier to identify and act on opportunities as an independent.
How to make it work?
Business must move away from what is now described as presenteeism: the need to keep employees at a place of work for much longer than is required. Technology has created several management tools and devices to facilitate mobility, greater efficiency and economic growth. Ignore these to your detriment.
The M&R Collective is a strategic network of seasoned freelancers in the marketing communication sector. We provide:
Social media management,
Social media design and content,
Website design and content,
Graphic design, and
Contact us today; let us take care of all your communication needs.
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