Brisbane needs to protect its growing solopreneur community
June 2015 | Regus Article
Gone are the days when holding down one job with one employer was the norm. We are at the cusp of a complete work revolution, where working habits are changing radically as an increasing number of people across Brisbane take on more than one job simultaneously.
There are many reasons for this change, but certainly it suits as many employers as it does employees, with both sides increasingly looking for more flexibility than the traditional full-time work contract allows.
Global workplace provider Regus recently released a survey which revealed that 57 per cent of Brisbane respondents had observed an increase in freelance workers over the past five years, along with a 60 per cent increase in the self-employed. And with most Brisbane freelancers falling under the "self-employed" bracket, what we’re witnessing is an increase in the "solopreneur".
This increase is a potential outcome of the Regus survey finding that having to work fixed hours is considered a limitation, with 83 per cent of Brisbane workers saying these are not suited to their duties – the highest figures in the state, with Melbourne and Perth following (80 per cent and 78 per cent, respectively).
There is indeed a rapid change in the nature of work on both sides: Whether you’re freelancing or you’re a business outsourcing tasks to a freelancer, there are plentiful benefits for all parties.
Freelance workers can benefit companies of all sizes because they offer a well-honed skill set in a particular area that can be utilised as and when the business needs it, which means they are ideal for one-off projects or short-term work commissions. Further to this, being self-employed will most likely ensure that the freelancer will work hard to provide an exemplary service with a view to earn further business opportunities with that business.
Increased flexibility, a better work/life balance and higher incomes can often provide even more benefits for those who are looking to go solo, made all the easier through today’s accessible software tools for book-keeping and management. Here are a few, key benefits that freelancers have over the traditional employee.
Work/life balance: 58 per cent of Brisbane respondents believe that freelance workers have a better work/life balance than retained employees.
Flexibility: The flexible nature of a solopreneur means an equally flexible take on location, allowing them to dip into third-party, professional locations providing a cost-effective solution to fixed offices.
Business Mind-sets: 75 per cent of the city’s respondents have noticed an increase in outsourcing of projects, meaning the business mindset is now more open to external working relationships – creating greater opportunities for freelancers.
New technology: Business technology and online tools are quickening the pace and adding to this changing nature of work. With time-tracking software like Harvest, cloud accounting like Xero and organisational tools like Trello, it’s easier than ever to stay on top of business independently and professionally.
Freedom: Significantly more Brisburnians want the freedom to work where they like, with a professional home office topping the most productive out-of-office environments at 67 per cent. Outside of the home a business centre proved to be the most desirable location (46 per cent).
Despite the rise in freelancing, there are still issues that must be resolved. At this stage, there are no comparable sickness support models for self-employed workers in the state or across the nation. Freelance workers can purchase relatively affordable private income protection insurance, however we are in need of legislation or models that can protect our "solopreneurs".
A great model that Brisbane – and Australia in general – could learn from is in The Netherlands, where self-employed workers have created a system to financially support each other when they fall ill. Broodfonds, or “bread funds”, as it translates, is an online system where small groups of participants pay into a mutual sickness fund. Each member pays a monthly amount into the system based on how much they wish to receive if they fall ill.
It’s evident the trend towards freelance work in Brisbane will continue to grow and I strongly believe we must support it. With benefits for the individuals as well as for local businesses, freelancing is the way of the future. We’re in a time of economic uncertainty so the ability for individuals to have a cost effective business with little to no overheads and the ability to rapidly expand or retract is crucial – it really is a win-win for everyone.
Yusuf Oner, Area Director of Regus Queensland
1800 983 843 | www.regus.com.au