Lifestyle choices and tough economic conditions are motivating more people to choose self-employment over the structured job market, and many are making a phenomenal success of it. Education, technology and consulting start-ups are flourishing.
Talent-matching platforms are springing up all over cyberspace. In advertising, marketing, architecture and even financial services, companies are opting for the specialist, on-demand skills of independent workers.
South Africa’s specialist freelance economy
In South Africa, an estimated 2.5 million people are self-employed. Most are in the informal sector, but there’s a rising tide of highly educated, experienced folk who are driving the freelance economy.
Almost 80 percent of skilled independent workers are women based in Gauteng and the Western Cape. More than half have postgraduate degrees, and nearly 40 percent have been in their chosen field for at least 20 years.
High youth unemployment
The next waves of self-employed are the millennials who are opting for a better life-work balance. With the status quo being challenged on every level, and South Africa experiencing frighteningly high youth unemployment, predictions are that the freelance economy will continue to grow at a rapid rate.
Benefits of self-employment
For employers, an advantage of using contractors rather than full-time employees is potentially huge cost savings. They have access to specialist skills, if and when required, without the costs of recruiting or training full-time staff.
But what is driving more and more workers, in South Africa and abroad, to work for themselves?
Flexibility is king
Work for yourself, and you work where you want and when you want. You can set up a home office, and benefit financially from associated tax deductions.
You’re not ruled by the clock to the same extent as office-bound workers. You can choose to work when you’re at your most alert, be it first thing in the morning or late at night. If you’re a mom or dad, you can also schedule your work to allow you to drive your children to school, help them with their homework and attend sports and other activities.
Get paid for the work you really do
There are disadvantages – at least for now, companies get away with using the services of freelancers, without having to pay for benefits like time off, medical aid or pensions.
However, being paid for the work you really do has advantages too. It means that if you put in the hours, there’s no real limit on how much you can earn.
Professional talent-matching platforms are addressing one of the biggest obstacles facing freelancers; securing sufficient work to pay the bills. Most are intuitive web-based platforms that find the targeted skills companies require from freelancer databases.
International resources, such as Upwork and a more local equivalent, Giggar, are helping take the stress out of “going it alone”. The platforms provide freelancers with remote and even cross-country work opportunities, provided they have the skills to match.
Serviced offices and coworking
Self-employed individuals can now share office space, infrastructure and services. As well as cutting costs, this means they can interact socially and forge mutually beneficial business relationships with others at work.
At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking packages, and all our clients have access to meeting rooms, boardrooms and a range of business services. For more information or to book a tour of one of our branches, call us on 087 059 7777 or contact us online.