April 3, 2021

Freelance Engineering in the Gig Economy

How will the Pandemic impact how engineering projects are built?

The Covid scare over the past year has removed the final barrier for the Gig Economy and Freelance Engineering to take off in a big way. It proved beyond a doubt that people could work for home without the business world coming to a grinding halt.

freelance engineering

Freelance Engineering and Working from Home

In case you were wondering if remote work was a passing pandemic fad, consider that the top keyword search from candidates on Monster over the last few months continues to be “work from home.” Plus, according to other Monster research, remote flexibility was the second biggest policy change reported by employers in 2020.

The pandemic essentially forced many companies to do the unthinkable: manage a remote workforce. To a large extent, it was successful, proving that the work can still get done even without a physical office presence. In other words, even when things return to normal, there’s a good chance that many employees will prefer to remain off-site, at least some of the time.

Working from home will most likely be on a contingent basis and that translates into freelance engineering work becoming more mainstream. This new reality will put more onus on professionals creating their own brand awareness.

Gig Economy and Freelance Engineering

New research shows just how much technology has changed our lives. It’s given rise to the ‘gig economy’. The term borrows from musicians, who play individual ‘gigs.’

Within the field of engineering, being part of the gig economy does not require being employed by a gig employer. Individuals can work on projects for traditional firms. These gigs could be as short as a few hours or last months or years.

But not all the workforce change is occurring because employees want to be part of the emerging gig economy. Firms are looking for flexibility in their employees and want the option of being able to hire skilled professionals they otherwise might not be able to afford and only when they need them.
This will require significant gains in speed and agility to quickly identify work/projects in need of attention, source employees with the required skills, and staff project teams that can quickly perform the necessary task.

The New Normal

Having gig positions within a company means they can onboard new talent and off-board unneeded skills without the burden of employment taxes, severance rewards and paperwork.

This new ‘gig’ mentality resonates with a lot of people, especially Millennials and Gen Z, who don’t always subscribe to the traditional career model of working 9 to 5 for years on end. They want flexibility for hours, the option to take time off for long periods and ‘instant gratification’.
It’s a tech-enabled, nomadic existence in which there’s a constant mix of business and pleasure, where traveling for a job is no problem in a Gig Economy, where professional and creative passions are pursued at the same time.

Because of this new way of thinking, many individuals are freelancing and – maybe more critically – firms are depending heavily on freelancers for their workforce.

It’s a new gig based economy and post-Covid, more people will be working at home and on a per-task basis. This will also open the door for more opportunities to Freelance.

According to research by ProUnlimited, a contingent workforce management software and services firm, it’s expected that over half of skilled workers will be contingent by the end of 2021.

The top keyword search from candidates on Monster over the last few months continues to be “work from home.”

By: Steve Novak

I’ve worked for over 30 years as a freelance Industrial Automation Specialist. I created Engineering Job Czar as a Free service for people like us to easily find new ‘gigs’.