Freelancing can be a rollercoaster ride. During economic turbulence, companies will often turn to flexible or non-contractual workers to fulfil certain requirements quickly and easily.
After all, hiring freelance workers comes without the need to commit to permanent employment or costly job benefits.
However, freelance and gig work is more vulnerable to sharp drops in demand.
When recession bites, employers can terminate short-term contracts or casual workers far more easily than making full-time staff redundant, leaving freelance workers high and dry.
The current threat of recession and rising living costs is taking its toll on the freelance workforce.
Ryan Parker, a freelance worker, says the economic downturn is putting pressure on flexible workers to take on more work so they’re not reliant on one stream of income. While this may boost their income, it means working more hours.
“After losing contracts, freelance marketers have probably taken on too much work to overcompensate,” Parker told BBC Worklife. “Those who’ve lost a huge job have now taken on three or four contracts, even if they have capacity for only one or two. We’re probably overworking – and there could be some burnout coming – but at least we have a fail-safe should anything go wrong.”
Many freelancers have learned to build up a financial safety net to offer some protection during difficult times. But that isn’t the case for everyone, especially new gig workers or those with fewer skills.
Ohn Mar Win has been here before.
During a downturn, Win aims to diversify her salary through virtual workshops and a passive income accumulated through illustrating.
“My first passive wage, selling doodles on a stock image site, came as a direct result of needing to find income. It took two years to build up, but it paid off. [Since then] I’ve done everything from buying and selling on eBay, cooking from scratch and walking everywhere [to save money].”