Freelancers unite

I’m following up on my post earlier this month on “free-agentry“:

My own observations include the notion that Work 2.0 has resulted in more fluid and ongoing job searches, that learning is becoming part of work routine and that we now take our social networks wherever we move and need the workplace less for socialization. I’ve also observed a rise in self-employment and made my recommendations on how free-agents can market themselves online.

The Creative Class blog just raised some more points on free-agency:

  • More Canadians than Americans are moving into freelancing
  • Companies are hiring more contract and temporary workers, who have all the downsides of freelancing without any of the benefits. Contract workers are told where, when and sometimes how to work.
  • Lack of medical coverage (US) or a drug plan (Canada) can be barriers to freelancing, as mentioned in one of the comments.

Fewer jobs in manufacturing, a recession and a shift to networked business makes for an increasingly itinerant workforce. Contract work is what companies may want but it is in the worker’s best interest to approach non-salaried work from a consultant’s perspective. You are there to solve the client’s problem, not just do as you are told. Also, if you have to be in a workplace where the employer provides you with office space and tells you when to show up for work, the tax man may not regard you as self-employed, so you lose what few deductions you have.

If contract work seems like the only option, then start networking with co-workers and competitors. Band together as a guild or association and help each other out. Think of it as a freelancers union and look into group health care, joint marketing and shared administration. You can’t do this working 40 hours a week for The Man. The deck is stacked with laws supporting either employers and employees but the future of knowledge work is free-agency. The powers that be, corporations and unions, won’t change to help out freelancers, we have to help ourselves.

Check out: Freelance Switch

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