Freelancers add new dimension to UK economy

Freelancers are becoming an increasingly indispensable part of the UK economy. According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, this burgeoning segment made up 41 per cent of the UK’s five million self-employed workers and contributed £119 billion to the economy in 2016, and the numbers are growing fast.

Previously seen as the workers that businesses would turn to as a stop-gap rather than for specialism, the internet has transformed attitudes towards freelancers. Easy accessibility to business-standard technology has driven workers to adopt this path as a vocational choice, while employers now often turn to them first.

“Companies want them for their expertise, but also their ability and experience to manage themselves in a project,” says Shib Mathew, chief executive and founder of YunoJuno, a platform that connects experienced freelancers with clients. “No two projects are ever the same so choosing the most appropriate specialist based on skill, experience and organisational fit, without the operational costs of hiring permanent staff, makes much more sense.

“The internet provided such an incredible infrastructure to make a freelance career a reality, while we’ve also seen huge behavioural change in the workforce and acceptance of not needing to ‘go permanent’ to have a successful career. On the flip side, companies can rapidly scale their team very easily and choose the most appropriate skillset for each project.”

While freelancing has increasingly made sense for both workers and employers, historically they have struggled to find each other. Freelancers don’t have the time to develop extensive connections so find it difficult to find new clients, while companies often lack the sourcing mechanisms for fresh talent and skills.

For a long while, the traditional process of engagement between both sides was opaque. Neither the freelancer nor the client had a strong handle over the negotiation process and there were no clear processes for managing freelancers inside an organisation. Freelancers also often dislike the more administrative side of being self-employed.

“A creative freelancer may take that vocational choice to enhance their craft and doesn’t necessarily want to run a business and chase invoices,” says Mr Mathew. “Also, on your own, you can feel unsupported and miss having a larger body looking out for you. It doesn’t make it easier when you’re under pressure to deliver work or run a business.”

YunoJuno was founded in 2012 by people who had experienced these exact frustrations, both as freelancers and as companies looking to work with them. The online platform and community removes the opacity from the process and facilitates new connections directly, while enabling efficient management of a client’s entire freelance workforce.

By sourcing and managing freelancers through the YunoJuno platform, clients can not only save costs and engage more closely with this community, but also gain more visibility through the real-time data insights the company provides. Meanwhile, freelancers can get on with excelling in their craft because the platform removes the headaches around the administrative aspects of running their business.

“There are no better people to solve a problem than those who encountered it themselves,” says Mr Mathew. “We’ve responded to those problems in a very different way based on our experiences and as a result have doubled our business every year since we started. Nobody else is approaching the freelance economy like YunoJuno.

“By having all your freelancers in one place and sourced from a curated community of London’s best freelancer talent, you regain control of what is often the second-largest cost centre within an organisation behind permanent staff payroll. You can save time and money and you’re not having to worry about where your freelancers are coming from or if they are being supported. This direct and transparent access has changed the world of freelancing for both client and freelancer.”

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