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Freelancing in America & GWA’s Role

This post reflects the results from a survey conducted by Edelman Berland of over 7,000 U.S. workforce members on Freelancing in America, whose Result Desk was published on October 1, 2015, and the need to corral the voice of coworking providers via the Global Workspace Association.

Here are some of the salient data from the survey, with meaningful implications for the coworking industry.

Source: Edelman Berland Freelancing in America Survey, Oct 1, 2015
  • 34% of workforce are freelancers, or 53.7 million people
  • This represents a growth of 1.3% from prior year, which is remarkable – in the past, the number of freelancers would decrease in upswings of an economic cycle as people returned to “stable” jobs in large companies. The fact that this has not been the case in this particular cycle points to individual lifestyle choices, which corroborates the results of the poll.
  • 60% of freelancers indeed said they started more by choice versus necessity, up 7% from the previous year. Youngest and oldest generations are most likely to start freelancing by choice, driven by flexibility and freedom.
  • The majority of freelancers who left traditional employment earn more now, with 3 in 4 earning more within 1 year.
  • Technology is making it easer for freelancers to find work online. 51% had obtained a project online.
  • 50% said they would not quite freelancing for any traditional job.
  • 3 in 4 non-freelancers said they are open to doing additional work outside their primary jobs.

Worth noting is that all of the increase came from the “Diversified Workers”, which grew 8% from 2014 to 2015. Diversified workers are made of people from multiple sources of income, including part time jobs at a traditional work and freelancing. They are a growing segment of users we see on CloudVirtualOffices and CloudMeetingRooms.

Not all of the 53.7 million freelancers are candidate-users of coworking space. For example, construction contractors and Uber drivers are not a target marketing for coworking providers. But what this survey means is that the trend towards freelancing is meaningful, durable, and will require some changes in the mindset of political leaders and legislation. The coworking lobby (in the good sense of the word, i.e. be the voice of coworker) needs to become a significant force to evangelize what coworking is, and push for changes in legislations that currently do not factor the benefits of the sharing economy and people’s desire to achieve flexibility in their work. These efforts can be everyone’s responsibility, but also need to be corralled by a trade association like the Global Workspace Association. I know they are working on it. Good luck, Jamie Russo!

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