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Flexible, casual, portable

The flexibility to engage multiple clients, as many freelancers do, casts a wide professional net and opens up many more opportunities than the traditional work model ever did

It was very different in our grandparents' day.

For most of last century, a person's work life was usually spent working for the same employer, often in the same role. In the same bricks-and-mortar building. To the same clock-on-clock-off weekly schedule. With little or no variation.

Now, half way through the second decade of the 21st century, this work model has all but disappeared. There are probably a few workers out there who still march to the beat of this old school drum, but they're a small minority. These days, the modern working environment is characterized by a lot of contractual or casual work, often for many different employers ("clients"), and even across different sectors and industry areas. A worker these days can expect to change employers multiple times throughout their career.

Much has been made about the disadvantages of this kind of "floating" work model. About its inconsistency and lack of job security, and how many workers lack some of the basic protections and privileges that the previous work model provided, such as annual leave.

But to dwell on the "good old days" also fails to recognize the many advantages and opportunities that are available to workers in this day and age of contracts and casuals. There is a lot of autonomy and flexibility available to workers whose skillset can be adapted to contract, temporary and casual style work.

The digital age has drastically changed the way we interact with each other. High speed internet access has made it possible for more people in more career areas to work remotely, making it easier to work for multiple clients from home or the local cafe. Fifty years ago, the mere idea of working from home or being your own boss was the ultimate notion of having "made it".

This gradual shift away from traditional employment and towards people acting as independent contractors and freelancers has created a huge cross-pollination of contacts, ideas and options. The flexibility to engage multiple clients, as many freelancers do, casts a wide professional net and opens up many more opportunities than the traditional work model ever did.

Websites like Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr and even Uber have created a whole new industry based on the flexible working model. This blurring of the line between work and leisure has enormous appeal for many people, especially parents or budding artists who want to dedicate time to personal projects.

These days, if you have a skillset that's valued, (regardless of the industry) you can choose when, how and where you work. The ability to conduct business transactions while lying on the beach, or to finish off an important report at home wearing your pyjamas can barely feel like work at all.