Ed Brown was a partner at PWC and worked as a manager at IBM. Today, he is taking his son to a sports session after school. As a freelancer, Ed is now largely able to shape his own daily work routine, which sees him advise companies in the areas of strategy, finance and management as an external specialist. Ed always performs his work on a temporary basis and does not have a permanent employment contract.
Today, he works just as much as he did in the past. Ed is also a member of the board of trustees of a major NGO and teaches at a renowned management school. However, he no longer needs to attend inefficient meetings, let alone wrestle with office politics. Previously, meetings easily accounted for between 30% and 40% of his working hours; now he is free to allocate this time as he wishes.
CHOOSE YOUR LINE MANAGER
Ed is one of many. More and more companies are employing specialists on a temporary basis for specific projects. Freelancers such as these contribute valuable current experience gathered during work on other projects and at different companies. These ‘super temps’ are sometimes even more important than the permanent staff members. In order to acquire these talented employees, companies need to offer attractive projects and conditions. Studies show that four out of five temporary employees are very satisfied with their new situation – and this comes as no surprise. Almost all employees wish at one time or another that they could choose their working hours, projects and line managers. It is true that the boundaries between a freelancer’s work and free time become more blurred; however, those who are well organised enjoy greater freedom and enhanced independence.
FROM JOB TO JOB
Working as a freelancer is nothing new, but the number of sole proprietorships, and also people with permanent employment looking to generate additional income, is growing significantly. In the US, the phenomenon has been particularly marked since the recession of 2009 and today 17 million people work on their own account. By 2020, it is anticipated that more than 60 million people in the US, or 40% of employees, will be working independently. The term coined by the Americans to refer to this booming form of work organisation is the ‘gig economy’. Just like a musician, a freelancer moves from assignment to assignment. This new form of work meets the changed needs of employees, who seek greater flexibility, less administration and exciting. projects. Leadership and management tasks are no longer a necessity for them, and instances in which employees spend their working lives at the same firm are becoming a rarity.
MAJOR COMPANIES PUT THEIR FAITH IN FREELANCERS
In the digital age, the location at which work is performed is becoming of secondary importance in a growing number of professions. Today, freelancers offer their service to companies on online marketplaces; thousands of new users register on platforms such as HourlyNerd and WeWork every day. Freelance activities in fields such as journalism, design, multimedia, consulting and programming are perfect for this form of job placement. Thanks to platforms such as these, companies are able to implement projects more quickly and cost-efficiently, irrespective of temporal and location factors. Although it was initially small firms that made use chiefly of these services, large companies such as IBM, PWC, Google and NASA are now recruiting project staff via online platforms. They have recognised the signs of the times – that they are often no longer able to attract the top specialists with a full-time position. Companies in the service sector need to adapt to this situation.