The advent of technology allowing connections to anywhere at anytime has had a significant impact on how we work. Many people are no longer content to tie themselves to one employer and prefer to sell their skills in the global marketplace to buyers with whom they perceive a connection or to those whose requirements match their skills.

A 2014 study by the Freelancers Union in the US highlighted the various motivators for going freelance and it is no surprise that “earning extra money” is all the way at the top. With the current economic conditions in the Middle East & North Africa region as well as the disparity of incomes between the Gulf States and the rest of the Levant and North Africa, we can assume that the motivators would be very similar.

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So who are these freelancers, who opt for a more precarious, project to project work life to secure, paid employment with all the attendant benefits that it brings such as bonuses, holiday pay and medical insurance? They’re not all millennials who are only freelancing because they haven’t figured out what they want to do in their long-term career yet. Meet the different types of freelancers selling their skills in today’s marketplace.

New Parents.

Once that new little bundle of joy has arrived some parents realize that both of them going back to work full time is no longer an option. With flexible working in most companies still at very low levels in the Middle East, either one parent gives up completely or they compromise by freelancing. This allows them to fit work around childcare commitments but still retain an income and enables them to keep their hand in the labor market in order to rejoin it more easily in the future.

University Students.

Many students supplement their meager student loans by freelancing. It enables them to put their studies into practice and hone their skills. The benefit for employers is that they are often exposed to new and innovative practices introduced by the students. They also bring a wealth of enthusiasm and energy to projects being eager to make their mark in the world. It’s also incredibly useful for employers to have input from the generation that grew up in a digital world.

Moonlighters.

For those looking to supplement their income, the freelancing option often seems like the obvious choice. This is especially the case when the person has creative, design or technology based skills. They work for their main employer during office hours and then at night sell their skills to others. The advantage here is they often have very current skills they can utilize and use to benefit others. As they already have a main wage this group may not be freelancing purely for money. For example, they may choose to do pro bono work for charities if they have particular skills that are in demand.

Monetize a Passion.

People who start off indulging in a passion for pure enjoyment’s sake often end up wanting to monetize their skills and create a full time career doing it. This can be anything from photography to blogging to beauty.

Retirees.

Twenty years ago the dream was to work hard, save a decent pension and retire at 50, perhaps 60 for those who’s pensions weren’t quite that big. Now, with people living longer than ever before, people who have retired from full time work are no longer content to sit around and watch TV, they want fulfillment from their later years. Freelancing for this group is a choice and one many take with huge enthusiasm. For employers the advantage is the years and years of experience this type of freelancer has and the in-depth knowledge of their chosen field.

Freelancing suits a wide variety of individuals and this will only increase as flexible working continues it’s exponential rise facilitated by technology. It is important to note that many well educated and experienced people freelance by choice, a fact that we often overlook as we tend to assume that people freelance out of necessity or a lack of other options i.e. full time employment. Working with freelancers can add tremendous value to any business as it encourages knowledge transfer – learning from a new consumer group like the young, new mothers or retirees – and helps get work done faster while keeping costs in check.

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