Ahead of the curve – freelancers at the forefront of change

23 Nov

Celia Surtees, Policy Adviser at PCG, analyses one of the hottest topics at National Freelancers Day 2012 – ‘innovation’.

Regardless of party affiliations Alastair Campbell is widely renowned as one of the best political communicators of modern times. It’s amazing to think therefore that some of the communication tools which are today regarded as essential didn’t exist when he left number 10. His departure in 2003 pre-dates the creation of Facebook by a year, Twitter by three years and countless other online innovations we now take for granted.

These tools have become so ubiquitous in modern life that it is almost impossible to imagine a time without them. Indeed, for those looking to forge a career in marketing or communications mastery of these tools is now considered essential. There are now entire roles dedicated to the management of social media tools and it can be as important to have Tweetdeck skills on your CV as Word and Excel. Campbell himself counts tweeting and updating his blog as important parts of his working life.

For freelancers, maintaining a grasp of new innovations and learning how to use them to your advantage is vital – and not just in terms of technology. Indeed over the course of NFD 2012 a refrain heard again and again was that freelancers need to be even further ahead of the curve than most in order to survive.

The distinguished panel at NFD returned to this theme a number of times during their debate on Wednesday evening. Freelancers, by embracing new ways of working and innovating as they go, are leading the way for the workforce at large.

One of the final questions put to the panel on the evening was whether they thought in 20 years time freelancers would outnumber traditional payroll staff. Opinions on this were divided, but reflecting on the event in his blog later, Campbell acknowledged that the fact he was even asked shows how the economy is evolving – with freelancers at the forefront of the change.

I think we can all agree with him when he says that “those who adapt best are the ones who will do best in the future”.

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