If recent trends are anything to go by, the future of freelancing in India looks vibrant. An increasing number of individuals are choosing to work according to their preference: where they want, when they want and the work of their choice.
A study by McKinsey shows that around 20% to 30% of professionals in developed markets are engaged in freelance or gig economy.
In India, the freelance industry is estimated to grow to $20 to 30 billion by 2025.
So what is driving individuals to freelance?
Factors such as independence, freedom to choose the kind of work they want to do and better financial prospects are the main reasons. Another key driving force is technology. Most freelancers are remote workers. Technology has made this possible.
Newer tech gadgets and digital advancements are enhancing the way freelancers work. Collaborative tools such as Slack, Dropbox, and Google Docs have made working with teams across the globe a piece of cake.
According to the McKinsey study, the online marketplace could add $ 2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
What is more, cities are becoming more and more supportive of the freelancers and gig workers communities. Coworking spaces and shared office spaces for specific kinds of members, and cafes and restaurants are opening up to freelancers by providing basic facilities like free WiFi.
Considering the vibrancy of the freelance industry, here are some insights into the future of freelancing in India:
Startups driving the growth of freelancing in India
India has the third highest number of startups. Most often cash-crunched, early-stage startups prefer working with freelancers instead of employing full-time workers. The reason?
- Freelancers are cost effective
- Freelancers bring domain expertise
- Gig workers are relatively easy to find
- Working with freelancers is less risky as bad hires can cost companies heavily
An article in Forbes points out that demand for freelancers in the field of UI and UX design, digital marketing, artificial intelligence, and robotics, is growing in the startup industries. Additionally, the demand for freelance chartered accountants, lawyers, and architects, too, is growing.
Established companies preferring freelancers
A PwC report predicts, bigger and successful organizations will have few in-house employees and have a larger remote, virtual and networked workforce – skilled freelancers.
In the U.S. 66% of large companies are working with freelancers because it allows them to access skills and expertise, which the in-house workforce no longer possesses.
Moreover, different cities have different kinds of talent pools. These individual freelancers prefer not to relocate. For example, the IT and automation-related experts in Bangalore – the IT hub – might not want to relocate to other cities, but are open to working remotely.
Corporates and companies understand this and are willing to explore remote working arrangements in order to have the right talent.
Cities supporting freelance culture – coworking spaces
Enter any coworking space in any city; the chances are you will see a mix of freelancers, individual consultants and entire organizations working out of coworking spaces. Apart from that, cafes and collaborative-shared office spaces are packed with professionals in the age group of 25 to 45 years.
Currently, cities seem to be nurturing the future of freelancing in India. However, this trend is seeing a gradual change. Tier-two and tier-three cities are embracing coworking spaces. Freelancers in smaller towns are working out of cafes and shared spaces.
Startups, corporates, and organizations of all kinds are embracing coworking spaces in order to offer their millennial workforces the flexibility and working conditions that they desire. Coworking spaces offer flexibility in location, networking opportunities and working alongside like-minded professionals.
New Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, and Hyderabad are the cities with the most number of coworking spaces; and the number is increasing. The coworking ecosystem is getting vibrant with those facilitating coworking opportunities getting creative and innovative about the way people work and the way spaces get utilized.
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A need for up-skilled freelancers
Several reports predict the loss of close to 5 and 10 million jobs by 2020. These jobs will get automated and be done by robots. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, calls this humanity’s “biggest existential threat.” But it’s possible to tackle this transformation. By up-skilling!
Owing to the influx of technology, AI and robotics, the talent need for companies is changing. The older job profiles are becoming redundant. Organizations are looking out for domain expertise. One of the best ways to find this is in freelancers, who constantly invest in learning and up-skilling to keep up with the industry demands.
Whereas the last couple of years were all about ‘entrepreneurs’ who were starting companies and startups, the coming years will be for ‘solopreneurs’ – freelancers selling their skills to a variety of takers across industries and working independently.
To sum it up
A recent report by Deloitte throws light on the challenges and opportunities that freelancer workforce models can bring. If companies and organizations develop and integrate strategies and programs into their systems, it would benefit all – businesses and freelancers.
Are you a freelancer? Looking for ideas or coworking spaces to work from? Try these options: