It’s not just your inner circle – it seems everyone’s going freelance these days. Why wouldn’t we? Armed with the notion that we shouldn’t settle in work or in life, a growing number of young people are foregoing the limited vacation days, cubicles and bosses in favour of the booming freelance world.
And yes, as a recent freelancer, it’s scary at first – but it looks like the freelance economy is here to stay.
The whole newfound minimalist mentality – where experiences like travel are valued more than things are – seems to go hand-in-hand with the freelance culture. Being able to write the day away from a hammock in Nicaragua, on a balcony in France or fireside in a friend’s London apartment is a lot more creatively stimulating than sitting in the same chair, at the same desk, in the same office day in and day out (in my experience).
So, instead of waiting for our dream jobs to happen, we’re breaking free from the cubicles and creating them ourselves. And it’s easier than ever to do so thanks to Toronto’s embrace of the gig-based economy.
Not only are there no shortage of interesting coffee shops in Toronto that welcome the all-day computer-clad coffee sipper, shared workspaces offered by companies like WeWork are becoming increasingly common. A startup called Random Works even allows members to work from empty restaurants when they are not in use.
A growing number of companies are also starting to contract work out work as opposed to having someone full-time, in house – something that can make sense when it comes to both cost and quality. In what Harvard Business Review called “The Rise of the Supertemp,” even those in fields historically reserved for the corporate world – like architects, attorneys and CMOs – are opting for the freelance route. Of course, the ability to do so is facilitated by our ever-evolving communications technology that allows us to effectively and affordably work remotely.
With Toronto’s insane real estate costs, a growing number of people are living further away from the city core. And few people really want to clock 10 hours a week on the GO Train (as glamorous as that sounds). Freelance fits their lifestyle, especially if young kids are involved (daycare definitely doesn’t come cheap, after all).
The thing that many learn the hard way is that there is nothing fun financially about the early days of freelance.
Of course, the freelance world isn’t without its challenges. The thing that many learn the hard way is that there is nothing fun financially about the early days of freelance. For starters, you’ll face the rude awakening that it can take months to be paid for certain jobs and for the ball to roll steadily in terms of work. You also have to consider that the life of a freelancer can be an isolating one, filled with solo hours spent in your sweats in front of your computer.
Furthermore, you have few protections as a freelancer. In Ontario, gig economy workers are not eligible for things like overtime pay protections and minimum wage. Not to mention, being a freelancer usually doesn’t come with the option of benefits. The expectation, however (or, at least, the hope) is that employment laws will be altered to reflect the changing nature of the workplace. It’s important to consider that fewer and fewer full-time jobs come with benefits these days anyway.
In April, a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – the first comprehensive Canadian study of its type – found that many people (55 per cent) have opted for the freelance route because they feel it’s their only option. They view their jobs as “something to do until they can find something better.” This may be partially true; but for most of my freelancing peers, passion also played a major role.
While many of them happily left reliable corporate jobs to become their own bosses, it’s safe to say that the Toronto layoff-riddled media landscape is far from stable. In a questionable economy of layoffs and dwindling benefits, choosing passion over paycheque makes even more sense. All my full-time come freelance friends love being able to work from 10pm to 2am should that be when they’re most focused, never having to worry about counting vacation days and no longer selling their souls to the monotonous grind.
Why do you think more people are starting to freelance? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.