The term “freelancer” typically refers to a self-employed person who has no long-term employment contracts or commitments. While “independent contractor” might be the appropriate box to check when filing taxes, a freelancer is the more commonly accepted term. Simply put, a freelancer sells labor to clients or employers on a short-term basis. The freelancer may be paid on a per-hour, per-day or per-job basis, or any other arrangement that the freelancer and client can agree on.

Professions That Lend Themselves to Freelancing

Although freelance work may be appropriate for any number of professions, it has mostly been used in the past for marketing, web development, teaching and tutoring, accounting and graphic design. Recently, though, telecom service providers have begun to realize the value of hiring freelance engineers who have the expertise needed to meet current demand and develop the technology that will be required in the future.

The Gig Economy

The gig economy, sometimes called the on-demand economy, refers to an employment environment where positions are temporary, and tasks are performed by freelancers in much the same way as a musician performs a gig at a club. A recent study by Intuit found that the gig economy is growing at an annual rate of about 18.5 percent. Assuming that this rate continues, the number of freelancers working in the United States will more than double from about 3.2 million to 7.6 million by the year 2020.

Projected Growth of the Gig Economy

The Intuit survey also shows the gig economy in the U.S. to be in a long-term growth trend, rising from 17 percent of the workforce to 36 percent over the past 25 years. By 2020, it is estimated that 43 percent of the workforce will be made up of freelancers. A major factor in the growth rate can be tied to the elimination of long-term employment benefits, such as sick leave and pensions. In 1982, 60 percent of all full-time workers were eligible for retirement pension benefits: today, that figure has dropped to a measly 14%.

Reasons for the Growth

Some studies have shown a correlation between the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and freelancing. It seems that the tax penalties resulting from uninsured workers are forcing more and more companies to hire freelancers who are responsible for their own health insurance. The studies reveal that 60 percent of companies will be hiring more freelancers than regular employees in the future. Additionally, almost half of the companies surveyed plan to increase the number of freelancers that they employ by 30 percent or more. Another reason that the gig economy is growing at such a fast pace is that many of the younger-generation workers, such as millennials, place more emphasis on personal values and interests than they do on their job. This is in stark contrast to previous-generation workers.

Providing for the Future of the Gig Economy

In order for the gig economy of the future to achieve maximum efficiency, it is necessary that advanced technology platforms and infrastructure systems are in place well ahead of time, and that state-of-the-art communication channels are available in order to provide a seamless work environment between a client or employer and a freelance employee. For all practical purposes, there should be no difference in the ability of a freelancer to communicate with and access the data of an employer than it is for a regular employee at the employer’s place of business. Of course, all of this will have to be accomplished within a maximum security framework.

The Future of Telecom

The telecom industry is rapidly evolving, with many providers incorporating new services into its business model. As we move forward, the profitable companies will be the ones who meet future challenges head-on and have the ability to solve complex problems. Telecom providers will find it necessary to reinvent themselves and fine-tune their technology platforms to maintain a competitive edge. In order to accomplish these initiatives, it will be necessary to build teams that bring together a diverse set of talents, perspectives, and experiences. This is where freelance engineers become so valuable.

Freelance Engineers

One of the leaders in the freelance telecom field is, a global freelance marketplace designed for the benefit of telecom and IT field engineers. By connecting IT service providers and telecommunications businesses and organizations with a global pool of talented and skilled freelance engineers, companies can reduce their costs and increase their profit margins while freelancers can apply their talents on a short-term or even telecommute basis. Since 2016, when released a beta version of its online marketplace system, the right resources have been in place at the right time to solve the problem of matching qualified freelance engineers to the employment needs of local and global companies.

The internet of things is in the process of changing life as we know it. As the future unfolds, and the demand for freelance engineers grows, the role of will become even more important in filling the needs of the future workforce. Find your future workforce today, sign up for Field Engineer and start connecting with freelance engineers who are available on-demand.

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