Episode 8: Going YOLO and the Growth of Freelancing

by Yvonne Harris

In this episode of Welcome to the New Normal we discover why more and more workers are going YOLO – the philosophy that You Only Live Once – and ditching their jobs for new adventures. But is Freelancing the best way to achieve dreams of independence? More than a third of the 26 million jobs in ‘non-tech industries’ in the U.S. could be done by remote freelancers.

Tune in to the Welcome to the New Normal audio podcast now and follow along with the script below.


Will you YOLO?

The dramatic changes in the way we live and work has given rise to a new phenomenon, a movement by exhausted and fed-up millennials who’ve decided to ditch their old lives and roll the dice for and set off new adventures.

Wait, you said YOLO? What does it mean?

YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.

What’s it all about? And, Tony, are you sure that YOLO is a verb or even an adjective. I thought it was just – YOLO.

I honestly don’t know, but I quite like it as a verb. I YOLO, you Yolo, etc.

Well after a year of back-to-back video calls, increasingly demanding deadlines, working flat out from dawn to dusk and beyond, a growing number of “type A” millennials, bored of the daily grind and with cash in the bank are abandoning their cushy jobs looking and are out looking for new adventures…

These guys don’t want to heed their bosses’ calls for them to return to the office and the commute…

They don’t want to pay exorbitant rent for a tiny apartment, and they definitely don’t want to go back to business as usual.

And a growing number of them say they’ll quit their jobs unless they are allowed to work wherever and whenever they want

And they are putting their money where their mouth is, with more and more stepping off the career treadmill altogether.

It’s not for everyone – but for the growing number of people with the skills that are in high demand, and savings in the bank, the drudgery and anxiety of lockdown life has given way to a new kind of professional fearlessness and determination

New York Times Journalist Kevin Roose started hearing these stories when people he knew began to quit their high-paying and stable jobs, to go off in pursuit of passion projects.

Roose said he was hearing a common theme, which was that “The pandemic changed my priorities, and I realized I didn’t have to live like this”.

For example, he spoke to a lawyer in Florida, who said had an epiphany during a zoom meditation session.

‘What do I have to lose?’ he asked himself? “We could all die tomorrow.’

After a year of stress and strife, will you YOLO?

If so, you’re not alone. A recent Microsoft survey found that more than 40 percent of workers globally were considering leaving their jobs this year.

It seems that companies have noticed, and are doing everything they can to buck the trend and save their employees from burnouts that could drive a YOLO exodus.

That’s right. LinkedIn recently gave the majority of its employees a paid week off.

And Twitter employees have been given an extra day off per month to recharge under a program called #DayofRest.

Obviously, not all companies are going to be able to do that. So what can they offer employees to keep them on board?


Is freelancing a good way to YOLO? (seeing that we made it a verb)

Ditch the 9 to 5 treadmill? Work from wherever you like? Choose your clients?

Well, this is another trend that’s definitely on the rise.

According to research by Upwork, “Many companies, both inside and outside of tech, are increasingly using remote freelancers for a variety of professional services. This is especially important when activities need to scale up and down quickly, occur on a project-by-project basis, or are in skill areas that are increasingly scarce in tight labor markets.”

The pandemic identified the opportunity of remote work for professional services jobs across every industry: on average, 22.9% of workers across all “traditional industries” were remote as of January 2021.

According to the research 35% of businesses in web, mobile, and software development are hiring freelancers.

This is followed by 12.1% in sales and marketing and 11.7% in customer service.

And companies are willing to invest!

Among Upwork’s 100 largest non-tech clients … 80% of them increased their total spending, which grew by 44.2% in 2020.

Indeed, professional services are involved in every part of the economy.

This means that the opportunity “for professional work is everywhere and, as a result, these jobs exist in every industry.”

It’s not without its risks though…

Freelancers forego many of the benefits that come with having a full-time job- medical insurance, unemployment insurance, paid holidays, and parental leave

They can’t guarantee having work all the time, they risk being over-reliant on single clients, and what happens if the economy takes another nose-dive?

But it’s definitely an avenue for people wanting to do something different, with the courage to go looking for new opportunities.



37% or about 25.7 million jobs in ‘non-tech industries’ in the U.S. could be done by remote freelancers.

It’s a huge number, and I can’t see that many people ditching their full-time contracts to go freelance.

But the number of freelancers is certainly growing, and the support for them to get it right is growing too…

I for one am seeing a lot of content on my Tiktok feed with more and more videos giving out advice for young people

An increasing number of content creators curating snippets of advice to the younger generation to help them get it right: giving them a pointer on what types of careers to get into, how to find clients, and of course balance their jobs with the life they actually want: which in most cases is traveling the world.

So either that’s a growing trend and one to look out for, or maybe the Tiktok algorithm just identified that after a year of lockdown and not leaving France I yearn for a big trip far away

Thanks very much for tuning in!

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