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Team & Culture, Start Up 101

April 19, 2016

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The Freelance Economy in Asia is Rising

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Many of us grown up thinking that having a successful career means being at work from 9am to 10pm in a corporate office, wearing a suit and tie, and walking along the busy central business district on our way to power lunches. 

However, in the past decade, new definitions of what a career means have emerged. In their struggle to figure out what they really want, Gen Z and millennial workers are trying out new ways of making a living.

Freelancing as a full-time job is one of several responses to what many see as an overly structured work environment in the corporate world. The trend of freelancing is becoming more prevalent across borders, industries and occupations.

Leading this phenomenon is the United States.

In a recent report commissioned by the Freelancers Union “Freelancing in America: 2015”, there are nearly 54 million Americans working as freelancers, representing about 34% of the total US workforce. Furthermore more than 60% of those freelancers chose to work this way – they were not forced into it by a bad economy, but rather prefer it to other options.

Nearer to home in Singapore, more and more young people are choosing more flexible career paths instead of choosing a 9 to 5 job. This trend is accelerated by evolving workforce demographics, technology enhancement and the emerging of new economic trends from both the clients’ and the workers’ perspective.

For workers, a freelance career provides attractive propositions for young people who may be disillusioned with the career paths of their parents.

  • greater freedom,
  • increased flexibility
  • an opportunity to be your own boss
On the clients’ front, organizations can
  • tap on a huge global pool of talent to complement their skills gap, allowing them to create a specialized, on-demand workforce that crosses borders, time zones and skill sets which is especially important for a city-state like Singapore.

We believe the freelance economy will continue to grow by helping local enterprises scale up their operations as well as to overcome the talent supply crunch, plugging specific and strategic skills gaps of organizations here in Singapore.

While it make sense for small enterprises to leverage on the freelance economy to scale up their operations, it is also important for any organization to choose the right freelancer(s) for the task at hand, in order to reap the full benefits of the freelance economy.

Here are three important steps to take as you reach out to freelancers:

(1) Prepare an updated job description and project scope.

Many times, we have come across requests from clients that say, “I need to engage a web developer or a graphic designer” without having a specific project scope on hand. Usually requests like this lead to mismatching the freelancer to the project, or mismatching expectations from either side. Minimize misunderstanding by having exactly what you want from the freelancer neatly laid out.

(2) Ask for the freelancer’s portfolio and experience.

Most freelancers today have their portfolio ready to share with potential clients. Look through their portfolio to determine the suitability of each freelancer’s style with your organisation’s branding and positioning. For bigger budget projects (and if time allows), run some reference checks and test their skills by carrying out a related test.

(3) Ask for a meeting or at least a Skype call.

Once you have narrowed down your search to the freelancer that you would like to work with, arrange a meet up or have a Skype call (if the freelancer is based overseas) to confirm that the freelancer can integrate in your work culture and for the assurance that he/she can remain contactable during the tenure of the project.

Once you have found the right freelancer, you have leveraged a growing market of skilled, nimble, and flexible workers who may just be the best resource your organization has.


 

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