25 October 2016
Hong Kong has more than 60 co-working spaces, an indication of the growing popularity of freelance work. Photo: Good Lab
Hong Kong has more than 60 co-working spaces, an indication of the growing popularity of freelance work. Photo: Good Lab

How freelancing is reshaping the workplace

Hong Kong people were recently shocked by the news of a young teacher with three master’s degrees who committed suicide.

He didn’t leave a suicide note but it’s believed he chose to end his life because he couldn’t get a stable job.

“It’s unbelievable that a person which such qualifications couldn’t find a stable job,” the man’s distressed father said.

For most people, a stable job means a nine-to-five white-collar occupation that pays regularly, so that they can build their plans on it, such as can buying a house or a car, or getting married.

Hongkongers generally believe that how much people earn determines how successful they are.

Nowadays, however, people are beginning to think differently. They’re no longer hung up on how much their job pays.

Instead, many tend to look at whether they have the kind of job that will help fulfill their dreams.

Some prefer to work as freelancers rather than be tied down to an office desk.

A journalist friend quit her job to become a freelance PR consultant. Now she is able to go on a long vacation every couple of months.

Some bloggers sponsor her trips and pay for her writing.

Another friend gave up his job as a user experience designer to broaden his horizons.

Now he works with startup companies on a project basis.

Some traditional occupations are undergoing change as well.

One of them is teaching.

Teachers should polish their e-learning know-how so they can work as consultants helping schools develop new programs.

I believe there will be huge demand for this type of consultancy in the not-too-distant future.

The fact that freelancers, independent contractors and startups are becoming increasingly common has given rise to a new kind of workplace.

The so-called “co-working space” concept which has become popular in recent years has revolutionized the traditional office, allowing workers from different backgrounds and small startups to share a place with basic office facilities at low cost.

Hong Kong has more than 60 co-working spaces where all you need is a laptop computer, a smartphone and perhaps a cup of double espresso to kick off your day.

These days, freelance work appeals not only to young people but also to older employees in major companies.

They’re embracing this type of job in exchange for more flexible time and a greater sense of satisfaction.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 31.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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