Pivotal periods for freelancers: How digital skills

Written by By Brooke Smith, Candice Lee for CNN

“Another call,” comes the voice on the other end of the line.

“Erika! Can you stop by and check out his new laser installation tonight at 8pm?”

It’s the call I get when I have a full day in my inbox, but you hear this phone call when you’re based in a field or remote location and taking a call at other times.

Freelancing is a fast changing landscape, as work migrates from big cities to remote locations. Large corporations are ditching their expensive onsite offices. The internet and cheaper technology are pushing freelancers to freelance and working from home. And as more and more people work from home or part-time, certain rules and regulations around working hours, tax breaks and health care changes are being made to keep workers connected.

More support needed for creative freelancers

Companies like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft create opportunities for freelancers to earn part-time income by renting out their homes for lodging. Businesses like Foodora , which use freelance drivers, are increasingly popular. While individuals use these services on a full-time or part-time basis, they have no access to social insurance programs. For these freelancers, taxes for them and their families are their own responsibility, they have to figure out insurance coverage and they pay for public transportation. Because this is not yet covered by insurance or programs, many freelancers do not have the resources to deal with these issues on their own.

Rhiaan Bloem and Erik Wong at their recently opened studio studio in Paris.

Freelancers should be able to access these benefits and have a better understanding of them, says Adam Butler, co-founder of Audaciously.co, a platform that connects freelancers and those that want to hire them.

Freelancers are also changing the way companies are doing business. As telecommuting expands, a growing number of companies are incorporating onsite amenities like a cafeteria or gym into their employee cafeterias. In New York City, public transportation systems are also making more frequent stops at the workplace — and providing wireless internet. In an interview with CNN, Gary Kremen, CEO of New York City’s transportation agency the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said his company was subsidizing wireless Internet in some subway stations to help transit employees stay connected and improve its business and customer service.

To stay connected, freelancers need to know if the company they are working for offers health care. Freelancers like Rhiaan Bloem and Erik Wong know they have to buy individual insurance, but pay their premiums and enroll in a plan on their own. In many cases, freelancers are only covered if they are paid enough to cover their premiums. For freelancers, who often don’t get health insurance through their employer, being stuck in a plan can really affect their ability to save and plan for their future.

This makes it hard for freelancers to save money, says Claire King, Principal Consultant for The Polin Group — consultants that help clients manage benefits.

Freelancing can help part-time employees build skills and build their resumes.

“For most people that have someone who is off managing their money, for their most recent experience, they can’t touch the client’s money,” says King. She adds that a lot of people find this irritating. But she is currently working with business owners to make it easier for them to hire and manage freelancers. She points out that the US is home to a large pool of skilled tech talent who have experience working remotely.

Freelancers that are skilled technically are popular with employers today because technology has led to a better way of doing business, says Jason Porco, Partner and Director of the Global Talent Advisory Services, Accenture.

The idea of different digital channels that you have control over, are more accessible, have more control and everything is technology, lends itself very well to talented software engineers.

Freelancers earn an average of $51,000 to $74,000 dollars per year, according to a survey of 128 freelancers and 1,611 salaried employees. And in a recent survey of more than 2,000 employers, 41% said they would consider bringing on freelancers to add talent in the near future.

Freelancers are also using the Internet to sell their own products, with classes on YouTube. A web conference service called WebEx announced in March that it would finally start offering a platform for freelancers to connect with clients and connect with each other.

As more freelancers connect with clients on sites like Amazon Echo, the Internet can do more than just provide health care and a platform to freelance, it can also provide opportunities for people to turn skills into full-time careers.

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