Freelancing and the COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemics are always destructive, be it the Spanish flu of the 20th century or the COVID-19 pandemic. They cause deaths, overwhelm hospitals, suffering to families, fear, and loneliness. Apart from this, they also cause economic ruin.

Covid-19 pandemic

The seemingly uncontrollable COVID-19 pandemic has damaged economies at every level, which has compelled people to look for an alternative. Freelancing is one of the best alternatives for those who have the required skills, and clients are looking for those skills during a crisis.  

The Covid-19 outbreak

In December 2019, the Covid-19 virus appeared in Wuhan China and quickly spread to almost every nation on earth.  It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. 

At the time of writing, more than 1.6 million people have died and more than 73 million positive cases have been identified. The virus comes in waves, seemingly improving during summer months and then bringing a second wave, with its resultant quarantines, restrictions, and lockdowns. 

Businesses are affected, unemployment rises and people feel despair.  Although companies have developed vaccines they claim to be effective, at present these are not widely available. 

Economic crisis

The impact of Covid-19  has caused an economic recession in many counties. A decline in the performance of stock markets, an increase in unemployment rates (12.7% in Italy in the year 2020 according to the stats provided by the International Monetary Fund [IMF] on June 29, 2020), and a slowed rate of industrial growth were observed during the economic crisis brought by the COVID-19. 

According to the World Economic Forum, “The COVID-19 pandemic is set to result in the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Revisions to the IMF’s April forecast now predict global output to fall 4.9% this year,” and “…the strength of the recovery is uncertain.” 

However to some extent, after the first wave of the virus, economic downturns have reversed at varying rates of recovery and there is a more optimistic attitude prevailing particularly after the introduction of the vaccine.

A shift to freelancing

During the period of Covid-19 lockdown physical engagement was very limited, resulting in a rapid increase in online dealing of all kinds. Many unemployed people decided to freelance which increased the remote workforce. Likewise, there were more online freelance job opportunities(a 25% increase was reported during the April to June quarter of 2020).

The Future of Freelancing

Freelancing offers skilled individuals the opportunity to find available work, or for people to learn new skills so they can offer their services to a wider market. Moreover, due to the pandemic, clients are now hiring skilled freelancers for the first time. This trend will no doubt continue for both clients and freelancers, resulting in healthy competition and quality work. 

According to a report by Forbes in 2017, an 8.1% increase was observed in the number of Americans who chose to be freelancers in the previous three years and if this pace is maintained, 50% of the American workforce would be freelancers by 2027. 

According to a survey conducted by Payoneer (The State of Freelancing During COVID-19), freelancers were asked about their perceived future after the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was mixed: “53% of freelancers believe demand will increase from what it was before the pandemic, with a further 21% expecting demand to revert at least to how it was prior to the crisis.”  

So although a positive attitude towards the economic future may take some time to develop, it seems freelancers will have a greater role to play. 

The unforeseen, difficult, and ongoing outcomes of COVID-19 are new for us all. Recovery on every level; economic, personal, and emotional, will take time. However, the human spirit is resilient and creative so new ways of working and managing the economy are emerging and likely to remain long after the pandemic is over. Freelancing will no doubt be high among those alternatives.