The freelancers wanted to be free, so they went their own way. The corporate rebels quit their cubicle jobs and threw off their chains. The entrepreneurs were born to answer the call of independence. Going it alone, however, was much more daunting than many realized.
Since 2008, trend and research reports started proclaiming that “the Japanese model of lifelong employment is dead!” By 2022, more than half of the US workforce was made up of freelancers. For a while it went well, as the consultants and gig workers rode the euphoric wave of building their dreams and savouring the joy of eating ramen in their pyjamas.
Slowly, disillusion crept in. In the majority of cases, the lifestyle freedom that they sought didn’t compensate for the lack of paid annual and sick leave, retirement contributions and a steady stream of regular income.
Of course, some giggers made a massive success of their solo ventures; and organizations still had the option of working with professionals on a project basis, without taking them on with all strings attached. The returners knew this and had to bargain their way back in somehow. Tired of the unpredictability of their freelance days, they opted for lower earnings, in exchange for ‘secure’ employment and a regular paycheck.
It just goes to show, without a new system of social security and some form of safety net, the certainty of a low salary trumps the uncertainty of a potentially higher income. I guess now we must just hope that these companies offering lifelong careers don’t go bust? Otherwise, it’s back to square one!