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A Look Inside the Freelance Movement

By: Brittany Corners | Published: March 5, 2015

freelance movementFreelancers Union in 2014. This represents a significant shift in how work and sustainable incomes are approached by workers.

Finding work was once an arduous process, one of circling “help wanted” ads in a newspaper and making phone calls. Opportunities were difficult to uncover, and even more challenging to land. For businesses, finding the right talent was just as difficult. Bringing on a new staff member was risky in that business owners were forced to select the candidate who most closely resembled the requirements without much proof of his or her qualifications, other than word-of-mouth reputation or verbal references.

But that was before the Internet; before the world became accessible in a dynamic and new way that brings opportunity and dialogue to a far different, much larger arena. It was before technology caught up to the workforce, providing a stronger avenue for businesses and workers to find one another—a welcome end to a difficult era.

Yet, as we look back on the early days of online recruiting, not much changed from the days of circling “help wanted” ads. Searching for jobs may have become easier for workers in that they no longer had to leave the house, but the online job boards of the late 90’s and the early 2000’s were cluttered, and did nothing to mitigate risk for either party. The intended benefit of increased visibility actually made sourcing talent just as difficult for businesses, if not more so. With frustrations running deep on both sides, a new dynamic emerged.

More companies are now embracing the idea of sourcing talent “on-demand.” The project-based nature of on-demand freelance work allows businesses to scale their labor forces quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the risks inherent to recruiting. This is a significant disruption to the classic recruiting model – and a welcome one in the eyes of workers.

Recently, Forbes posted an article entitled “5 Predictions for the Freelance Economy in 2015” highlighting trends in how work is now obtained, how projects are now executed and how work is managed, and goes on to make predictions on how this will evolve in the future. There is a lot to like about this conversation. This article attributes the explosion of the freelance movement not only to changing perspectives of the workforce, but also to businesses seeking independent contractors more frequently and including freelance workers as a consistent aspect of their growth strategies.

Businesses of all sizes are now realizing the benefits of leveraging freelance workers. Larger companies and SMBs alike now tap into freelance talent on a much more frequent and intensive basis. To keep up with this shift in the worker-management paradigm, the industry will require a stronger management system. According to Ardent Partners, 40% of organizations expect to adopt a Freelancer Management System in the next 12-16 months, which tells us there is a significantly underserved need in the marketplace today.

This is an important aspect of the freelance economy – one that is mentioned in the Forbes article above, but worthy of further discourse. To effectively scale a freelance workforce, businesses can no longer rely on the Human Capital Management (HCM) software systems that exist in most workplaces today. HCM software is designed to give employees performance goals, and feedback on those goals. But, this does not fit the bill when it comes to managing freelance talent. In the not-so-distant future, businesses of all sizes will need to adopt new strategies and tools that accommodate the many distinctions of managing freelance workers.

Best-in-class Freelancer Management Systems provide a means for testing and training freelance talent, assessing individual performance and managing the assignment of work to freelancers who fit the project requirements. This process mirrors the placement of “help wanted” ads and parsing through applicants – but in a far more efficient, reliable and repeatable manner.

As we continue to move into 2015 and beyond, it is evident just how crucial proper system management has become within the freelance landscape. As an independent contractor, it is important to work with a company that offers the proper tools for a successful relationship. As a company seeking quality work, it is imperative.


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