Being your own boss. Working anywhere. Flexible schedule. Following your passions. Working alone. Working overtime. Instability. Chasing your bills to be paid. These are a few pros and cons that illustrate a typical freelancer's life.
At our meaningful meetUp on Future of work we listened to two examples of how burdens and uncertainty can affect a self-employed worker’s life. As a warm-up for the gathering, a clarifying article was shared in advance with the participants, written by Gianpiero Petriglieri and others, presenting the results of their in-depth research regarding this emergent workforce. It is said, that approximately 150 million people in North America and Western Europe now work as independent contractors, most of them in knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations. And despite the feeling of being a host of personal, social and economic anxieties without the cover and support of a traditional employer, they also said they chose independence and wouldn’t give up the benefits that come with it.
One topic that raised great discussion during our gathering, was the fact that companies utilize this type of workforce to minimize cost, offering them task-driven positions and considering them as disposable knowledge. In the case the expertise they bring is less relevant, it allows companies to keep high turnover rates, even with the encumbrance of training every new batch of contractors. It was pointed out that in any situation, self-employed or affiliated, a worker is vulnerable, and can be dismissed at any given time. And it is potentially harmful to those with long years of experience in their careers. Most of them find it difficult to re-enter the job market, leading them to follow a consultant or freelancer path.
During our talk, it was also mentioned how the counterpart, being employed by an organization, has its own disadvantages as well. For the sake of security and packages with added benefits, many employees postpone their dreams of working in different areas or industry sectors. In the end, as beautifully put by one of our attendees:
‘We always search for something more. To go further, to go higher. (however) The only thing we need to search is within ourselves.’ [Oriana Spataro]
Searching for a meaningful job is key when thinking about freelancers. The continuous quest for work that embraces one's talents and the urge to change the world is almost the Holy Grail to be considered and to feel successful. Technology also plays a role easing the path, as more and more platforms bring closer both professional offers and services needed. However, there is no solution that fits all, as some people believe that while working for a corporation, one can develop a sense of shared purpose and appreciates more when working in large teams. It even may be related to cultural aspects, as there are more competitive cultures and others more social.
‘Following a meaningful job can be as a freelancer or as employed by a corporation. It is an attitude in life.’ [Carmen García]
When touching the cultural point, and blessed with an education expert among us, our soulful conversation reached a very special topic: How can we teach children to be prepared for this new work & world? Developing emotions, a being that believes, feels and thinks by itself, is by far the most important foundation to build upon. From then on, learning how to be an entrepreneur, assuming the responsibilities for one's own journey; learning how to work in a team and that everything is co-created; welcoming diversity that generates creative alternatives and an empathic environment were ingredients agreed to be part of a recipe to a thriving next generation.
For the future of work, we see technology and new contract models affecting our long-lasting relationship with work. In spite of all challenges, this is the perfect moment to rethink and improve our connection with what we do for a living, bringing more essence and purpose to our lives.
‘The rise of machines created the perfect excuse to question and debate around humanity.’ [Carmen García]
Companies we believe
We would love to thank Anacondafoods for their ‘delicious’ presence. They are truly a great example of a positively purposeful company. We would love to see more of those!