There is a 2 million-strong pool of people freelancing in Britain and the flexibility offered by those freelancers was calculated as adding value of some £21 billion to the British economy. Over the next five years, the number of freelancers is going to continue to grow.
Freelancers are defined as self-employed people who usually provide pieces of work for other people. They can work in almost any industry from marketing, administration, and finance, to design, law and teaching but a common theme is that they often work from home or from one of the many coworking spaces that have been popping up in recent years.
So, as the working landscape shifts, and more and more people move away from using traditional office spaces as part of an employed in-house team, how will the office design industry be impacted? Will it be impacting it negatively?
Freelancers can work from anywhere
At first glance, for companies who normally offer traditional office design and fit-out services to businesses with teams of in-house employees, this shift to non-traditional ways of working could spell disaster.
However, while freelancers can work from anywhere, not all places are compatible with the nature of their work, meet recommended health and safety guidelines or fulfil their needs.
With that said, this change could, in fact, represent two distinct opportunities for the office design industry to expand into; home offices and coworking spaces.
Making the most of a home office
A lot of freelancers choose to work from the comfort of their own home without the distraction and interruption of a busy office environment. With advances in digital technology, many people are able to do their best work from home, however, to be successful in the long term, they will need more than just their laptop and a good wifi connection.
It can be tempting for freelancers to try and cut costs by working from a dining table, or even a sofa, but this just isn’t practical over the long term. Anyone who’s spent 8 hours a day sat on a little wooden dining chair will testify to that. And while a sofa may be comfortable enough for the odd Netflix binge, after hours of trying to work with your laptop on your lap, it’ll soon become clear that it’s not really the best solution.
Instead, freelancers will need to find the most appropriate office furniture, office lighting, and perhaps even office flooring if appropriate for the space. This is where the office design industry can focus their efforts – supplying quality office furniture and accessories that are perfectly suited to the increasing number of freelancers choosing to create their own individual office space at home.
Coworking spaces to inspire
In response to rising demand from freelancers, coworking spaces have been getting increasingly popular in major UK cities, especially London. For those that find their productivity levels reaching an all-time low when trying to work from home, a coworking space is the perfect alternative.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, coworking offers a cost-effective, flexible and sociable option for freelancers who want to get out of the house but don’t want to commit to taking on a commercial lease of their own.
When it comes to office design, a co-working space has unique needs. This provides a great opportunity for office design companies, like Zentura, to show off their expertise and understanding of working with a space like this by offering creative layout designs, innovative furniture choices and clever ideas that will appeal to many, whilst remaining efficient and functional.
The rise of the freelancer economy can’t be ignored
With the freelancer economy expected to grow over the next 5 years, the office design industry needs to sit up and take notice of this growing market and make sure they’re offering products and services that really meet the needs of freelancers.
We’re already using our experience to offer specialist coworking fit-out and refurbishment services across London but we’re sure there’s more that the industry can do to make workspaces for freelancers to flourish – whether at home or in a coworking space.