What is the future of work for freelancers and the self-employed in the post-covid world? There couldn’t be a greater level of uncertainty surrounding this than there is now. And for many self-employed workers, freelancers and companies, this means their livelihoods are at stake.
It’s difficult to predict when we’ll have a clearer picture of their future. However, freelancers are fundamental for German business. They’re accelerators for transformation, vital for new start-ups, and also help businesses when they’re struggling to fill gaps in personnel. Yet they face a series of stumbling blocks including: fear of bogus self-employment, compulsory statutory pension insurance, and other regulatory hurdles.
For many self-employed workers, freelancers and companies their livelihoods are very much at stake.
That said, for many, a career as a freelancer offers more advantages than disadvantages – they wouldn’t want to give up their self-determination, or the flexibility and independence it offers, under any circumstances! This trend is growing, especially given the increase in remote-working brought about by the health crisis. The idea of having to choose between your dream job and your preferred place of residence has become a thing of the past.
So, why does freelancing remain so attractive despite the pandemic – and what should freelancers watch out for now?
Self-employment is still seen as the “little sister” of permanent employment – which is why we urgently need a campaign to change the image of self-employment.
In our current ‘How Germany Works’ research series focusing on freelancers, we found that almost one in four freelancers (23%) encounter clients who cannot adequately distinguish between full-time staff and freelancers. These uncertainties hit freelancers in the STEM sector particularly hard: 25% of IT and 31% of engineering freelancers have already lost contracts because their clients was afraid of bogus self-employment. This is something no freelancer can afford in such difficult economic times.
Freelancing despite the Covid-19 pandemic
When you take a closer look at the motives for freelancing, it’s clear flexibility and self-determination are among the decisive motivators. The pandemic, digitalisation, and automation have all intensified the trend towards new working models and made agility a central issue for businesses. Freelancers can come in and act as agility drivers to react faster to problems and the needs of companies. This is able to happen because working freelance means being your own boss and enjoying flexibility – therefore make sure you’re aware of your value.
Even before the current health crisis, the demand for digitalisation experts in Germany couldn’t be fully met. This has only increased during the pandemic in certain areas of the country. According to the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BitKom), there have been 86,000 vacancies for IT experts across all sectors since the end of 2020. IT freelancers can therefore look forward to an increase in demand from the second half of 2021.
Freelancers can come in and act as agility drivers to react faster to problems and the needs of companies.
Nevertheless, despite the rosy outlook for IT freelancers, we shouldn’t ignore the immense challenges that come with self-employment. Finding assignments can be difficult, a lot of time and energy goes into tendering and ultimately there are hidden costs when unsuccessful. To avoid this, I’ve listed three “top tips” for you below.
If freelancers follow these points, they’ll be well on their way to fully exploiting the advantages of self-employment – for themselves, for companies, and for Germany as a business location.
Three top tips for freelancers
Get legally fit
The danger of bogus self-employment hovers over freelancer activities like a Sword of Damocles. More and more regulations and compliance guidelines can unsettle freelancers. It makes sense to have legal support should you require it. Many HR consultants have expertise in legal and tax imaging and can ensure a more ‘relaxed’ working life.
Manage your time effectively
Who doesn’t know this feeling? A deadline is getting close and closer – the customer is expecting a project to be completed on time – and your stress levels are rising. Almost every freelancer has experienced this scenario once and it has an effect on mental and physical health. Good time keeping and self-management help to make projects more efficient. Clearly structured working hours and breaks lay the foundation for this. In order to work to your full potential, it’s worthwhile adapting your working hours to suit you.
Focus on learning
Continuous training is even more important for freelancers than for permanent staff. Making sure you’re up-to-date in your area of expertise is a vital part of being freelance. In Germany, the education premium even allows you to receive finance support. So, invest yourself regularly.
Read more insights
Break the bias: how we can empower more women in STEM
Women in Tech founder discusses how bias against women in STEM fields can be countered by increasing levels of female participation.
How can companies provide meaning to their employees
The next Work in Progress documentary explores the topic of purpose in work and how companies can provide meaning to the work they do.
Nine women leading the way in science and technology
Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science with pioneers making a difference.
Placing specialist life science skills with a global leader in Covid-19 vaccine development
Seeking people with extensive experience for roles that were essential for the development and delivery of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Increasing employee engagement in a remote work environment
How to maintain employee motivation and productivity in a remote environment.
Building a diverse and inclusive workforce for the 21st century
How partnering with Schneider Electric, recognised as one of the world's most sustainable companies, helped build a better future.
Finding reliable talent for a utility-scale solar farm construction project
How ENGIE, a global leader in sustainable energy solutions, began construction on a 200-megawatt utility-scale solar farm in Anson, Texas
Unexpected error: .NET Consultant needed urgently
Whether it’s a 24-month contract, or a 2-day contract, every day we partner exceptional contractors with pioneering companies.
Building a diverse workforce in the Asia Pacific region
Assisting our financial services client to map the market and source candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Being a climate conscious business
How climate change is affecting our business and the STEM markets we operate in with independent sustainability consultancy Avieco.
Empowering our colleagues to help the environment
Everyone at SThree gets 40 paid volunteering hours a year. Read about how our teams around the world are helping the environment.
Finding female leaders for a MedTech client
How people with different backgrounds, expertise and viewpoints can help teams make more effective decisions.
Supporting a sought after specialist through a mid-career switch
How a candidate returned to the banking sector after the pandemic led to hiring freezes and volatility in the market.
Providing access to medical testing through mobile and logistics technology
This health tech start-up uses mobile and logistics technology to provide access to medical testing, including COVID-19 in rural Nigeria.
Improving mobility and quality of life through 3D printed prosthetics
Improving mobility and quality of life through 3D printed prosthetics
Digitising water utility operations to reduce water shortages in Africa
How the WayPoints team developed software that brings water utility operations in Africa into the 21st century.
Tackling bacterial diseases in agriculture and beyond
The Uniphage team are hoping their innovative STEM business concept will create platform technology to cure bacterial diseases in agricul...
Alleviating single-use plastic in the fast food sector
A team of students from India developed sustainable food packaging to reduce the amount of plastic packaging being produced