The rise of freelancers during COVID-19
Up until recently, freelancing might have been avoided by some due to the uncertainty of income, making it a scary option for those who rely on a regular pay cheque to support their family or fund their lifestyle. However, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having a form of income that can be earned from home and can easily fit around changing circumstances, such as the pandemic. 34% of UK freelancers began their work at the beginning of March when the pandemic hit, proving that the coronavirus made a huge impact on people’s views of this line of work.
When lockdown first hit, offices were forced to close, leaving many businesses unable to employ their staff. Thousands of people across the UK lost their jobs and, in usual circumstances, the majority of these workers would have flooded job agencies and begun a new role as soon as they could. However, these circumstances were anything but usual, and thanks to the pandemic, there was a huge gap left in the job market, meaning that those who had lost their jobs were forced to find other ways of getting an income. Enter freelancing. Here we will look at the rise of freelancer during COVID-19 as told by The Fry Group.
Freelancing allows remote working
One of the main advantages of working as a freelancer is that you can often work from anywhere in the world! There are also many freelance skills which require only the use of a laptop to perform them which makes remote working possible. This was incredibly important during the pandemic as many people were housebound due to isolation, so they could not go into an office or separate workspace.
Lockdown also opened people’s eyes to the idea of travel, as when the opportunity to do something is taken away, people often realise just how much they want to do it! For those who suddenly dreamed of moving abroad, freelancing was a very popular notion, as it allowed them to relocate wherever they wanted to, without being tied to a specific work location. It's important to remember that if you are leaving the UK to move overseas, either to work or to retire, you will need to take steps to remove yourself from the UK tax system and understand all the benefits that being a British expatriate can offer.
Learning a freelance skill
Some of the skills that freelancers offer might be skills that you use regularly in your day-to-day life. Examples of these skills include email manager, social media manager, content creator or logo designer. It is surprising how many of these tasks involve everyday skills that many people now know due to such regular use of social media. So the first place to start is to think about whether there are any skills you already have that you could offer professionally. If you don't think that there are, then there are also many free courses available online which offer qualifications for certain skills that you can sign up to in order to hone a new freelance skill. When COVID-19 caused people to lose their jobs, looking for freelance jobs that related to tasks done in their day-to-day lives became the easiest way to make a new form of income, however it also made time to master a skill to help them become a freelancer, maybe something that they've always dreamt of doing but never had the opportunity to do before.
Remote jobs and companies are safe
At the start of the pandemic, the industries that were hit the hardest were travel, tourism, restaurants and retail. All of the jobs are customer facing, so they were not able to run during the pandemic due to the strict social distancing measures. COVID-19 has made it clear that with public-facing work comes many risks that were not considered before this pandemic hit. A large number of freelance jobs can be done from the safety of the internet, causing no need for physical contact. Many of the businesses that hire freelancers are also remotely based such as eCommerce stores or design companies. Jobs that do not require physical contact have a much smaller chance of shutting down if another pandemic were to hit, so many people understandably feel safer working them.
It is clear that the rise of freelancers is not slowing down anytime soon. A recent Upwork study asked post-COVID freelancers if they would ever consider going back to a traditional, i.e., a 9-5 office job, and 66% of them said no. Skilled individuals are starting to realise the potential and freedom that freelancing gives them and feel more confident working for themselves, without the safety net of an annual income. This change could be the start of a completely self-employed workforce and proves that anyone can be their own boss and that it is possible to replace a fulltime income working from anywhere in the world. All you need is a laptop and a skill that is in demand.