An increasing number of Americans have been turning to freelance work, and this trend has been accelerating. Some studies estimate that up to 30% of the workforce may be involved in this form of employment before 2020. The freelance industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Most of the positions allow employees a great amount of flexibility, and this includes the ability to work from home or other off site locations. There are dozens of mostly on-line companies that are involved in coordinating these types of positions, including Odesk, Elance, Freelancer.com, and others noted below.
Many of the these online companies that match employees and hiring employers have created what is sometimes called a Talent Exchange. These will allow contractors, freelancers, and other workers to offer their services to potential employers. Many of the positions available are for project type work that is time limited. However some of the work may be for longer term, on-going assignments.
Using these exchanges and the online sites, both organizations and individuals can post their job requirements or put projects out to bid. This is the time to ensure a position you are bidding on or applying for allows the ability to work from home.
The companies that coordinate these marketplaces will manage the payments between employer and the freelancer. Funds are held in escrow to ensure payment upon completion of the project. So any disputes can also be resolved online. This helps provide some level of comfort to the contractor in getting paid for the work as there will be dispute a process in place if it is needed. Also, the fees charged by these marketplaces is almost always less than the fees of traditional staffing firms, which benefits those seeking a job.
Many major employers are using these online services. For example, companies such as Panasonic, General Electric, and Unilever use oDesk to recruit and screen freelancers. The people hired for projects can also work all over the world, in countries ranging from the United States to India. Most of the individuals hired have the flexibility to work on the projects from the comfort of their own homes, provided they have the means to do that.
The marketplaces will have usually have thousands of different types of jobs posted. The exact details will vary by hiring company as well. In addition, some on the exchanges will focus on certain industries. For example, you may find more writing type positions on Elance. One of the companies, Odesk, has over 500,000 employers that have looked for freelancers in the past or that are currently seeking employees. They have been searching for all different types of positions and skillsets, ranging from simple data entry tasks to things such as mobile website development.
Some of the areas of positions available include writing, administrative support, proofreading, at home customer service representatives, web development, graphic design, data entry, a variety of programming and much more. Most of these types of jobs are work from home positions. They tend to allow employees a tremendous amount of flexibility.
Both freelancers and the businesses looking for employees need to log onto the website or talent exchange sites. This allows the hiring employer to post jobs and search for freelance professionals. Contractors and job seekers can also search for positions as well. The payment for the work done can be either hourly-rate or project-based. The transactions are handled online, through the online systems.
Freelancers search the website for jobs that are available. Also, each person can post a profile displaying educational-background information, past jobs done, a portfolio, and specific skills they have.
When a client accepts a position, there will usually be a work tool that needs to be used. This provides the hiring company an official record of the activities that were completed to date. For many of the project-based jobs, either milestones or a statement of work is used to indicate progress toward completion.
While there are some downsides, such as inconsistent workflow, people needing to pay for health insurance on their own, expensive benefits, or slow-paying clients, there are many benefits too. The positions will tend to offer employees more freedom, ownership and control of their careers, including the ability to work from home or maybe part-time.
Some of the positions can pay fairly well as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage was over $24 per hour. However this will of course vary widely as that average includes both lower wage activities such as data entry and higher paying work such as programming. The rates people receive on oDesk generally are in the range of $25 to $45 an hour for U.S. based workers and Elance will be around $25 per hour.
There are several reasons that the number of freelancers is increasing. One of the key ones is the increase mobile communication methods and technology that allows for virtual work-sharing. This is what is also driving the work at home industry.
Other important reasons for the increasing number of contractors are Generation Yers opting for self-employment, semi-retired baby boomers looking for part-time work in retirement, an increasing number of small- and medium-sized employers and also a focus of employers to develop flexible workforces so they can be more agile and scale up (or down) to meet demand. Another unfortunate reason for the growth is the increasing cost of benefits, namely health care expenses. So a con is that employers will usually not offer benefits to these freelancers. Full time job are also challenging to find, so people are turning to these services for some form of income.
Some of these studies also show that labor market trends are calling for full-time jobs to be replaced with part time, flexible positions. These means that regular paychecks and benefits that people received in the past, like health care, are being replaced by part-time and freelance work. The increasing trend has left many Americans engaged in often hopeless searches for permanent jobs.
Many of these corporations aren't just hiring contractors for one-time tech, wiring, or creative projects. They are now often using freelancers to augment their staff. This means they are creating a separate team running alongside their internal employees to complete certain tasks on time. This can be things like data entry, gathering information for surveys, or coding a software project. So those freelancers will sometimes have the ability to make a good impression, which can maybe lead to a full time position if that is what they want.
Some of the main companies that run exchanges and that coordinate freelance and work from home positions include the following. UserTesting, Freelance marketplace, Fiverr, oDesk, Freelancer.com, Guru and Elance. Some other options, that are a little more unique in their services, include NextCrew, Work Market, Onforce, and Workana.
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