Amazon is tapping into the booming freelance worker economy in their ongoing creation of 5,000 work-from-home part-time jobs with an elusive perk—health and career development benefits. The online corporation set their sights on the growing workforce looking for part-time incomes to supplement their income, with the flexibility to cater to those who may be disabled and unable to travel, parents with young children who wish to work again, or college graduates living at home and figuring out their next steps. Tom Weiland, Amazon Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service, stated in n a press release, “There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job—whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent—and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live.”
The percentage of American workers who telecommute is steadily rising, and understandably so. In 2016, it was found that 35% of Americans (55 million) were freelancers. Whether they’re working a second night job, supplementing a family income, or making their living as an independent contractor, freelancers enjoy a relatively low barrier to entry in the “work from home” job market, which makes these positions so desirable. There are a number of benefits to working from home: remote work allows employees to forgo transportation costs, and gives them the freedom and flexibility to develop their own schedule. It also creates jobs for Americans living in areas outside of major cities who struggle to find office employment. However, working from home has its challenges too: isolation, burnout, and unproductivity can all plague the home-based worker. While it serves employers well and saves them money to allow more workers to telecommute, there are costs on their side as well. To effectively work from home, an employee must be self disciplined in making sure they stay productive—or, on the other hand, don’t work themselves too hard.
However, Amazon’s recognition of freelancers in their development of these jobs sends a message to other companies, too: by recognizing a population of Americans who are actively seeking employment that reflects their lifestyle, they are stimulating the freelancer economy and benefitting a vast number of people who had previously been written out of the workforce.
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Words: Staley Sharples