Higher Rock Education - Economics Blog

Monday, September 19, 2016
Teachers looking for a real life example of how the value of currency can impact a business should consider this story. Last week I reached out to several of our freelance writers and asked them to pick an economic event and write about how the event affected them. One writer tells how she benefited from Brexit while some of her colleagues were hurt by it.

Brexit As A Gig-Based Freelancer

Just like everyone else in the UK, I had no idea what might happen after it was announced earlier this year that a 52% majority had voted to leave the European Union. I'm a freelance writer, working mostly through online "gig-based" websites like Fiverr and People Per Hour, and as such I've always viewed my work as pretty shock-proof. My clients come from all over the world, and I provide a variety of writing-related services, so it would take a fairly huge event to have an impact on my work. That said, Brexit was nothing if not big, so in the immediate aftermath I was more than a little worried.

Fortunately for me, I escaped almost entirely unscathed. In the days following the announcement the value of the pound sterling tumbled; but I receive most of my payments in dollars, so I actually saw a marginal benefit from this. For a few weeks there was a noticeable increase in the effective value of the payments I received. The value of the pound soon returned to normal though, and beyond that the impact of Brexit on my working life has so far been fairly limited.

Many of my freelance colleagues weren't so lucky, though – particularly those that rely on contract work from UK-based companies. Several told me that their work dried up abruptly following the announcement, and took several months to return. The companies who usually hired them were all immensely cautious in the aftermath of the decision, with some of them strongly considering moving their operation overseas before Brexit could take effect. Indeed, one particular unfortunate colleague told me how she had called her start-up employer on the day after the announcement to check a deadline, only to find that – faced with such uncertainty – they had dissolved the company.

The main damage from Brexit as far as freelancers are concerned so far is the uncertainty that it's created. Particularly in the weeks immediately after, work was hard to come by, and it looked to some of my colleagues as though all the time they'd spent building contacts and a reputation with companies in this country had been wasted.

Fortunately, that may not be the case. Although things are still shaky, my colleagues report that things are gradually returning to normal. Brexit represented a tough time for them, but freelancers generally have to be prepared to weather periods of famine as well as feast.

I personally am glad that I do more gig-based than contract work. It means that I don't have to rely on contacts quite so much, and am less likely to be disrupted by an event such as Brexit. That said, the actual departure of the UK from the EU is still to come within the next two years; and that, surely, is an event destined to bring even more uncertainty and disruption. With that in mind, a few of my colleagues have already been asking for advice about how to transition towards receiving a larger portion of their income through globalized, gig-based work; something I really can't blame them for!

© Higher Rock Education and Learning, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this site may be copied or distributed by any means, including electronic distribution without the express written consent of Higher Rock Education and Learning, Inc.