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Empowering Freelance Workers

The Future is Flexible

Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Franta

Experts explain why flexible work is the way of the future.

Zack Onisko

CEO, Dribbble

What trends do you see taking over in the industry for self-employed professionals?

One notable trend that we’ve seen among self-employed and freelance professionals is a growing interest in improving their skill sets and developing their business acumen – many of whom are doing so on their own time. In our recent global survey of 17,000 individuals in the design space, 42% of respondents reported that they primarily learned their skills completely on their own. Additionally, 30% said they wanted to improve their business skills and 24% wanted to improve their communication skills in the next 2-3 years. Additionally, we’ve seen a growing interest in flexible, remote and freelance opportunities. 

What do you think is the most important factor when building a remote team culture?

Building a successful remote culture is really about trust. It’s imperative to hire and onboard people who are inspired by the work, have a track record of success, and then let them run. We’ve found that our Dribbble family has time to do great work on their schedules, which prevents burnout and enables them to take better care of their families and themselves. We trust them to do an excellent job, and they trust us to lead our company to success.

How can self-employed professionals ensure they are keeping a competitive advantage in the modern workforce?

For anyone who is self-employed, attracting new business is extremely important. While there are many channels and avenues for doing this, our data shows that the most effective way is through building your professional network. 38% of the individuals we surveyed credited personal connections and recruiters as the drivers for their new job opportunities in the past year. Attending meet-ups and industry events, and building relationships with other professionals in your field, and connecting with recruiters in your fields is critical. 

What advice would you give to self-employed professionals getting started?

First, why do you want to go out on your own? Articulate your strengths and passions through a business and marketing plan. You’ll need to get really comfortable voicing your knowledge base and sharing it with the world. 

Second, create (or even mock up!) the type of work that you want to get. Your portfolio should be filled with the vein of work that speaks to you, tells a story, and will thus attract the types of clients you hope to work with. 

Finally, make it easy for potential clients to contact you. Whether on Dribbble or your portfolio, your work and contact information should be updated, clear, and simple to get in touch with you to discuss potential projects and collaborations. 

How can design’s role create success in multiple facets of a business? There are very few areas within a business where design doesn’t have a significant impact. In fact, for many businesses, design has become the key competitive advantage. Our global survey found that design influences everything from product decisions & roadmap to workflow processes and marketing decisions. And in a world where consumers’ attention is increasingly difficult to capture and even more difficult to retain, having engaging, intuitive design integrated into every touchpoint is critical.

How can employee wellness programs utilize the idea of behavior change science to make the best impact?

There are many models of behavior change. It’s important that a well-being program take an open-ended and holistic approach to the process of developing new, healthy habits. Individuals need the freedom to choose different activities to achieve a goal and complete those activities in a way that suits their lifestyle. WebMD Health Services differentiates our solutions with a focus on behavior change via incremental progress and clinically valid methods.

Why is it so important for employers to ensure their employee wellness programs have clinical expertise involved?

At a time when there is so much health and wellness information available across a range of media, reliable guidance from a trusted source is vital. A successful well-being program depends on a strong clinical foundation and a vigorous culture. Without expert advice, there is no reason for people to trust what they’re being told. We’re fortunate to be part of the WebMD brand, one of the most trusted in our industry.

How can employers ensure they have the best employee wellness program?

No organization can function without having smart, creative and productive people who care about the organization and are engaged in its mission. To do that, you have to take care of them. You have to make sure you provide an environment where everyone feels comfortable, listened to and healthy – physically, emotionally, socially, clinically and financially. Your well-being program plays a critical role in making people feel valued.

How have you seen the workplace changing in terms of mental health and wellness?

As more and more younger workers report feeling stressed out or depressed, employers are paying more attention to mental health. We know that chronic stress takes a physical toll. Employers can help by talking about mental health openly in the workplace to reduce the stigma of seeking care. Emphasizing workplace flexibility and offering well-being resources to help manage stress are two other proven methods to help.

Oz Alon

Co-Founder and CEO of Honeybook

What trends do you see taking over in the industry for self-employed professionals?

More people today are choosing to be their own boss and join the freelance workforce than ever before. This is especially true for Gen Z, many of whom started their own business before ever considering a traditional 9-to-5 job. A trend that we’re seeing this generation of entrepreneurs lead the way on is online payments. Building their own business often means running it from anywhere with just a laptop and a wifi connection and freelancers today need digital tools that can support this lifestyle. Online payments are not only convenient for business owners they’re also easy for clients as well. Our members transact over 80 percent of their business on HoneyBook.

As the modern workforce is adapting to non-traditional forms of work, how can technologies help these professionals succeed?

Technology empowers freelancers to work the way they want. The modern workforce is driven by a passion to build businesses doing what they love. But that doesn’t mean they necessarily enjoy or are particularly good at all of the administrative tasks that come along with running a business: invoicing, contracts, expense reporting. That’s where technology comes in. With intuitive software – like HoneyBook, QuickBooks and Shopify – freelancers can spend less time on business busywork and more time doing the thing they got into business to do in the first place.  

How can self-employed professionals ensure they are keeping a competitive advantage in the modern workforce?

In today’s market 24 minutes is the new 24 hours and it’s the person who responds to a new inquiry first who will most likely land the job. So for freelancers to be competitive and stand out in their industry, they must deliver a high level of service quickly; efficiency is imperative. Luckily for today’s small business owners, there are tools that can make this process easy. With HoneyBook, users can set up a workflow to not only respond to new inquiries quickly but also attach all the necessary details that a prospective client needs to advance to the booking stage. Timely and professional service is a competitive advantage that helps freelancers grow their business.

Why do you think people are pursuing freelance careers versus traditional careers, now more than ever?

An entrepreneurial spirit has always been at the heart of American culture, the difference today is that technology is making it easier than ever before for people to pursue their passion. With a laptop and an internet connection, anywhere can become your office. For help with everything from booking clients to business accounting and marketing, there’s an app for that. And with social media it is easier today than ever before for freelancers to market their products, connect with industry peers and build meaningful relationships with their ideal clients no matter the distance. Technology has made the dream of starting your own business attainable and we’re excited to see the trend towards freelance careers continue.

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