Remote workers are a cornerstone of the gig economy, from freelance writers to programmers working as independent contractors. Yet most remote workers are still scrambling to find their footing in an ever-evolving employment landscape. Further, a 2020 California law is set to throw a wrench into the gig economy, and other states, including New York, may soon follow suit.
Assembly Bill 5 was initially proposed as a tool to protect gig workers, but the fine print seems to have an opposite result. For example, under A.B. 5, freelance writers, editors, photographers, and cartoonists are now subject to a 35-item content cap. In short, California-based independent contractors cannot submit more than 35 pieces of content per year, per outlet, unless they are classified as traditional employees.
The seemingly arbitrary cap thus threatens the livelihood of freelancers, and unfortunately, such regulations may not be confined to California in the near future. Bloomberg Law predicts that New York may be the next legal battleground for gig and remote workers. As recently as September, Governor Cuomo expressed his support for A.B. 5, calling for further protections for independent contractors in New York State.
It’s important to note that “remote worker” isn’t always synonymous with “independent contractor.” Remote work opportunities may be offered to traditional employees, especially in industries such as content marketing and editing. While remote workers may be eligible for employer-provided benefits, independent contractors aren’t afforded the same luxury. But for many workers in the gig economy, being classified as a remote independent contractor is considered a perk rather than a problem.
The How and the Why of the Gig Economy
No matter where they’re based, workers from all walks of life seem to have their own opinion about the viability of the gig economy. For the most part, business owners seem to be on board with an increasingly remote workforce: By hiring workers as independent contractors rather than traditional employees, companies of all sizes can cut costs and aren’t required to provide healthcare or paid time off.
Despite having negligible employment protections, remote workers nonetheless enjoy the flexibility of the gig economy and the freedom to set their own hours. So in many ways, the gig economy is a win-win for employers and many contractors alike. And we have the internet to thank for the current state of employment, in NYC and across the developed world.
If it wasn’t for advanced technology and the internet as a whole, the gig economy wouldn’t exist. What’s more, online tech continues to fuel America’s remote workforce, providing user-friendly communication methods, responsive apps, and cloud platforms for ease of storage and sharing. And with the rise of AI, communication and cloud technologies will allow for greater transparency and accessibility, regardless of your physical location.
Remote Freelance Work: Tools and Tricks of the Trade
Across the Five Boroughs, a growing segment of the workforce has made the transition to freelance and remote work. A 2019 independent study determined that a full one-third of NYC’s workforce is freelancing in some capacity. Many of those who choose to freelance consider New York to be an ideal location, as the city is ripe with networking opportunities as well as paying gigs.
A number of Brooklyn-based companies are leading the charge towards an increasingly remote workforce. For example, the nonprofit TNTP, which advocates for improved public education, has a large and dynamic remote workforce. 67% of TNTP’s staff works in a remote capacity, from their homes, schools, and district offices.
Of course, it’s not always easy to introduce new processes in a business setting. For many companies, transitioning to a largely remote workforce was somewhat of a bumpy road. The timing must be right, and management transparency is key so that staff can address any concerns or ask questions prior to the transition.
Navigating an Evolved Employment Landscape
Despite the road bumps associated with gig work, from tax laws to autonomously maintaining a steady work output, few can deny the benefits of telecommuting. As a freelance worker, you can seek employment virtually anywhere in the country without having to leave Brooklyn. Remote work has also been shown to increase your happiness and productivity while reducing stress.
In many ways, the gig economy is a worker’s market, as it’s easier than ever to find a job that seems tailor-made for our unique skill sets. What’s more, many companies are turning to remote freelance work in order to hire the best of the best, no matter where those skilled professionals are located. The modern job market is indeed competitive, but the opportunity to work remotely virtually guarantees that you’ll find the perfect fit.
If current trends are any indication, the gig economy isn’t going anywhere. And why should it? Telecommunication technology is so advanced that it has become one of the best ways to communicate with clients, employees, and management. And a large chunk of America’s workforce has embraced the flexibility and freedom of remote job opportunities in an increasingly competitive employment landscape.
Author: Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
Image Source: Unsplash