By Rishon Blumberg, 10x Management Co-Founder
With a third of the American workforce identifying as freelancers (sometimes referred to as agile talent, 1099s, consultants, contractors, etc.), the freelance revolution has officially arrived. The decision to go independent is not exclusive to millennials or workers looking to supplement their income with a series of side gigs. The freedom to work independently across projects and sectors, rather than in a traditional company setting, is especially attractive for highly skilled and elite programmers and technologists, whose abilities and experience are now at peak demand.
The Revolution Will Not Punch a Time Clock
As little as a decade ago, top coders and engineers may have flocked to and coveted “company” jobs at Google, Facebook or Apple. Everything from salary and bonuses, to job stability and the notorious perks of working at an adult genius’s version of Romper Room might have been enough to attract and retain the best and the brightest programmers and developers. But as labor and market trends have evolved and the infrastructure to sustain remote work across borders has become more ubiquitous, a traditional office — no matter how progressive or quirky — is no longer necessarily the best option for talented and experienced programmers and software developers.
The Freelance Advantage
If the idea of freelance work conjures images of starving and underemployed writers, artists and creative types, the reality might be surprising. While the dearth of qualified tech talent may be making some headlines, the vacuum and high demand for the best technologists has created a talent war among the top tech firms, and qualified freelance programmers, coders and designers are coming out on top. This elite group can command their own terms. Choosing the projects they work on and commanding a price point commensurate to their value.
The benefits of giving up the office life for freelance gigs range from:
- The freedom to work in any time zone
- The experience and diversity of projects
- The ability for software engineers to make their own hours
- Flexibility to achieve a work/life balance and pursue and develop additional interests and skills, which is especially important to the millennial generation.
Lastly, there’s the money. The freelance economy is lucrative for experienced technology pros – who can command top dollar for their services – and for employers, who can see significant savings by contracting with talented team members for specific projects, rather than as full-time, permanent employees.
Bringing Their A-Game All the Time
The stagnancy and lack of productivity that often comes with working a full-time job, where projects can stall for months or even years, can be a deal breaker for high achievers. In addition to the freedom and earning potential, freelance tech all-stars enjoy the ability to work on challenging projects that help to keep their skills sharp — and in continued high demand.
According to James Knight, a former developer at Google who left to work as a freelancer through 10x, “At Google you could probably get away with not working for six to nine months — just showing up and making it look like you’re working,” he says. “There’s definitely a level of stress that comes with being independent that’s absent at Google, but I like that. I have motivation issues if I don’t think my paycheck is on the line.” Whatever the motivation or incentive, there has never been a better time for skilled technology professionals to make the leap into the freelance economy.
Why Quality Matters
We’ve seen this first hand as we represent the highest quality programming talent in the world (we call them our clients). Our client roster is extremely diverse, and each technologist possesses his or her own unique strengths. But all of our clients share one common trait: they all crave challenging projects on a regular basis, and they all have the rare skills necessary to work on these projects on their own terms.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy reading The Real Cost of Freelancers vs. Employees