Are You Ready to Go Freelance?

Viewed in Harvard Business Review.

A new Upwork survey reveals some hugely significant statistics about the growth of the American freelance workforce. Over the past five years, its U.S. ranks have grown by 3.7 million workers to now comprise over a third of the total U.S. labor force.

The trend now even has a coined nickname: the “gig economy.” But how much do we really know about these workers?

In this Harvard Business Review article, three business professors present the findings of their online survey conducted with the management consultancy Eden McCallum and London Business School.

Their findings: “The independent consultants in our sample feel like going gig has led to better work, life, and money,” they write.

On earnings, roughly 67 percent of these freelance workers report earning the same or more as their earnings in prior full-time employment, even though they now work less hours. But not all the news is positive.

On the negative side, “half of the independent consultants we surveyed mentioned unpredictability, insecurity and volatility” as their greatest concern as freelance workers, the authors write.

Also worth noting is this fact: Freelance work is not for everyone.  “Our analyses indicate that the most satisfied and successful independent consultants have cultivated three capabilities to deal with the unique challenges of working in the gig economy: proactivity, psychological resilience, and mental agility,” the authors write.

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