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2018's Freelance Trends According to Mary Meeker

  • By Sophie McAulay
  • November 25, 2020

Hotshot VC Mary Meeker gave her annual in-depth presentation about the digital landscape last Wednesday. Here’s what it means for freelancers and the world of work.
Haven’t heard of Mary Meeker?
She’s basically to the venture capitalist world what Sybill Trelawney is to divination (yes, I just likened a world-renowned securities analyst to a fictional fortune teller from Harry Potter).
Every year Meeker presents a report forecasting trends in the tech industry – and the world listens, because she’s usually right.
In the past she’s predicted things like the expansion of data-driven targeted user advertising (see her 2004 report) and the growth of a few pretty well-known companies, like Google, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb and Spotify.
On Wednesday she presented her annual presentation on the year’s internet trends at the Code conference in California.
Her 30-minute, 294-slide presentation imparted loads of wisdom on everything from worldwide internet adoption and mobile usage, to hot topics like cryptocurrencies, voice technology and subscription services.
An overarching theme was that the world of work continues to be disrupted by technology, at an ever-increasing pace.
For freelancers, there were four key shout outs.

Flexibility is a top priority for workers

People’s expectations for their careers are evolving, and these days their most desired non-monetary benefit is flexibility. This is fueling huge growth in the freelance space, with  freelance work growing three times faster than the growth of the total workforce. Part of this is also due to the fact that technology has made freelance and other forms of work easier to find – no matter where you are in the world.

On-demand workers are, well, in demand

Technology has also made it easier for people to find work that fits with their schedules and supports the needs of the population more efficiently. Uber is the prime example, with 87% of drivers using Uber because they can set their own hours, and 85% of drivers using it for the work/life balance it provides. The increasing desire for flexible scheduling has seen the on-demand workforce grow a huge 23% year-on-year.

Freelancers are lifelong learners

The world of online education is growing, fueled by the availability of online courses and YouTube skill-sharing. In fact, 70% of YouTube’s users look to the platform to help solve work, school, or hobby problems. And while lifelong learning is popular in many organisations, only 30% of non-freelancers have updated their skills in the past six months, whereas more than 50% of freelancers have.

Jobs will be stolen by freelancers, not robots

With highly-skilled workers now available to companies at the click of a button, it’s not AI that regular workers need to be concerned about – it’s freelancers who will replace them. And with all that upskilling they’re doing, and their satisfaction with their flexible schedules at a high, it’s not hard to see why.

Can’t get enough of these sweet tech trends?

You can access the full slide deck below.

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