What That New Best Buy Commercial Tells Us About The Freelance Life

Over the weekend I kept seeing this new Best Buy commercial. Normally I do my best to ignore commercials, but this one had some dialogue that forced me to pay attention. Have you seen it? If not, watch it and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

Mini transcript in case you can’t watch/hear it: “This is Ann. She just graduated…and got a freelance gig. It’s not going very well. Time for a technology makeover.”

For most people this is nothing more than another vapid attempt to sell technology, but for me it was a telling commentary on the future of work.

What This Best Buy Commercial Tells Us About The Freelance Life

1. Instead of falling back on freelancing when a “real job” disappears, college graduates are becoming freelancers right out of the gate.

News flash: no one wants to spend 40 years in a cubicle anymore, and even if you do, those conventional 9 – 5 jobs are increasingly hard to find. Today’s college graduates have grown up in the Internet Age. For them, silicon valley startups founded by college drop outs have always existed. They want jobs that are cool, fun, and flexible. They want to be independent, and choose the projects that interest them and the companies that can enhance their own skill set. Freelancing has become the norm, an expected element of career building, not just a polite way of saying you’re between jobs.

2. Although freelancing has become “normal”, it still lacks a supportive infrastructure and the laws/policies needed to make it fair, safe, and profitable.

In their new book, The Rise of the Naked Economy, the co-founders of NextSpace coworking estimate that 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelancing by the end of the decade. That’s 60 million people. But unless things change, they’ll all be in the same boat as poor Ann: paying out of pocket for functional equipment, software, and workspace; bearing double the tax burden of W2 employees, and operating without affordable health insurance or legal recourse if a client decides not to pay. The workforce is changing, and we need these old institutions to change with it. We need new laws that support, rather than marginalize the independent worker.

What does this commercial tell YOU about the future of work? Share your thoughts in a comment.

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