Generation of Freelancers

The thought of being my own boss has always fascinated me … I hate reporting to a senior … Period. I have always dreamt of working for myself and in the time-zone of my preference. I am essentially a nocturnal and hence am alive, awake, alert at night. Glorious mornings are not for me … In fact it is quite the opposite. I love the darkness of night and the intrigue it brings. Anyhow … My time-zones are not the topic of discussion here. This blog post is about the massive increase in freelancing population …

Kids scouting for jobs is a common sight … Kids (who are bitten by the bug of entrepreneurship) quitting jobs to “go on their own” is equally common. However, kids opting to go the freelancers’ way overtakes the other two categories. It is liberating to see people not succumbing to the dictates of an organization … being their own person and decide their standards of quality and ethics. I am completely enthralled with this “freelancing culture” … Well, at least I used to be … And then I met someone who was younger to me by 6 years and her take on the increasing trend towards freelancing was an eye-opener.

She has completed her Bachelors in English Literature and Masters in Mass Communication from one of the leading universities in India. She worked with one of the most popular newspapers in the capacity of “Features Writer” … She had landed in her dream job with a dream publication. Ever since she was a school going kid (yes, I have known her since then) she always wanted to write for this particular publication, name of which I shall not disclose here lest I run into the risk of being sued for defamation.

So this girl toiled hard … Went to the back of beyond areas of this country in search of stories … Spent nights writing and editing her own work. She was obviously elated with her work profile and her work gave her immense satisfaction. But then you cannot live on love and fresh air! You need money to survive. This publication refused to give her a raise citing “losses” as the reason behind its stagnant salaries.

My friend was forced to quit work because she just couldn’t make enough money to survive. Later she discovered that almost all her friends were sailing in the same boat. There was a complete mismatch in the demand-supply of labour force. The supply of young people with degrees surpassed the jobs available in the market and hence the organizations had stopped valuing their workforce. For years, the employees were made to work on contractual basis with no real raise in their money. Appraisals were a sham and those who did not perform up to the mark were simply shown the door without being given an opportunity of being heard … The scenario was not very different for those in technology, automobile, real estate, hospitality, aviation sectors … Everywhere the story was the same and hence people quit active work to freelance … Freelancing ensured two things … No formal hierarchical structures and seniors to report to and the flexibility of taking on work depending upon the speed at which you churn output. Furthermore, you can save taxes since you are on your own. However, these young people who are drawn to freelancing would love to have strong stable jobs which guarantee a monthly take home … They would any day prefer working in a set up which is structured with all the employee benefits. But given the work culture and stagnant salaries, they are forced to exit formal set ups in favour of freelancing which can at least give them the hope of making more money … what you make is directly proportional to the effort you put in but then again the irregularity of work flow associated with freelancing can drive a freelancer to take up more work than he/she can deliver, consequently leading to a fall in quality standards. Additionally, one is always driven by demands of the market. Thus, the notion of being independent and setting your own quality standards is misleading.

The “Generation of Freelancers” is tough and knows that in future they will have to battle against the growing numbers to chase very few opportunities … They were made to realize that the typical employee benefits shall never come their way and unless they come from money they will always have to work in order to support themselves. The concept of “job security” perished with the dinosaurs and now the only security one has is one’s potential.

I used to consider this generation privileged … The kids were allowed to take their own decisions and were not “guided” by the wisdom of their family members … They were given more freedom and were permitted to be assertive. But then, when I see them, I realize that they wouldn’t have been able to survive in the present climate had they not been given the opportunity to develop as individuals. For them a radical upbringing was not a choice but a compulsion …

Freelancing looks glamorous but doesn’t feel glamorous … What appears to be freedom is a simple trade-off with stability and security and had I been a part of this generation, I would have continued with that blood sucking organization instead of moving out. I wouldn’t have had the courage or the confidence to opt for freelancing over a job which is exploitative and corrosive …

One requires to be a certain type when you are talking about the “Generation of Freelancers” and in the event you find yourself to be wanting in that department, thank your stars you don’t belong to it (I thank my stars every single day) …

Old Head on an Older Heart … Full of Sugar … Much love Sugarsatchet!!

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