The gig economy and HR: why freelance talent platforms aren’t Uber-ising the industry

Guest blog by Xenios Thrasyvoulou, CEO of PeoplePerHour

Criticism of the gig economy has been rife in the media over the past few months, noting legal wins by gigsters against their now-called employers who must recognize their status as employees with all the rights and benefits this affords them. Little coverage, however, has been given to those earning competitive wages from freelancing while living a life away from the constraints of the 9-5, commuting and the performance tasks that don’t add value to their careers.

 

Hiring freelance experts is nothing new and offers genuine elasticity

Online platforms like PeoplePerHour have been around for some years; PeoplePerHour reaches its 10th anniversary later this year – it has not simply cropped up in a world of the consumer-driven need for flexibility and convenience.  Online talent platforms are increasingly needed by businesses to safeguard and futureproof in a global economy that has been shaken and uprooted numerous times in the past decade.

The flexibility and cost-saving potential of hiring freelance experts over in-house or agency hires has made the difference between success and failure for thousands of startups and SMEs during the last recession. At the same time, it has afforded the for growth and innovation for more established businesses to trial and push out projects on an ad-hoc basis where the constraints of the permanence in the traditional HR model would otherwise not have allowed.

These platforms offer hires from as little as a one-hour logo job for $20, to the creation of a team (led by an online project manager) of experts driving the delivery of a multi-million-pound project. The elasticity of this method means low-risk and quick turnaround which, in a world where competition keeps increasing and the bottom line is king, can offer huge gains, both in the race to market and in reducing overheads.

 

Businesses already use the talent cloud to search, hire and pay freelance experts

Imagine a world where a startup can grow into a medium-sized business in 6 months without the need for recruitment consultants or agencies; and hiring lead times, office space and utility bills, travel expenses, pensions and benefits are all a thing of the past, taken care of by your team of experts… This is the reality for thousands of people already using the talent cloud to search, hire and pay freelance experts in easily-managed work streams; billed monthly, avoiding endless paper trails, NI numbers and haggling over fees.

This does not mean to say that these freelancers are losing out against salaried employees. In fact, they seem to be winning in the work-life balance stakes. A study by McKinsey noted a “substantial difference in the satisfaction levels of independent workers and traditional employees” with independent, or freelance workers scoring higher across the board for both work and life. The study notes that “free agents have an average overall satisfaction rating of 4.9, the highest of any group, compared to a 4.6 average for those doing traditional work by choice. This result holds across income and age groups, suggesting that freedom itself has real value for free agents.”

 

Freelancers enjoy life more than those in traditional working frameworks

A YouGov survey, commissioned by PeoplePerHour also found that freelancers were enjoying life more than those in traditional working frameworks. Nearly one in ten (9%) Brits travel up to three hours or more each day. 44% of self-employed workers surveyed said they work from home and have no commute, meaning they are saving up to 720 hours or ONE MONTH every year! Mental health scores also improve amongst the self-employed. When asked the question, “do you find it difficult to cope with stress at work?” 33% of self-employed said they disagreed, compared to 22% of the employed. Who wouldn’t want well-rested, de-stressed people working more effectively for them with fewer overheads?

 

Online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion to global GDP

This is only the beginning. According to McKinsey, by 2025, online talent platforms “could add $2.7 trillion to global GDP, and begin to ameliorate many of the persistent problems in the world’s labor markets.” But it is not only small and medium-sized businesses that will benefit. We are creating enterprise solutions so larger businesses can manage their existing and new freelance talent more efficiently, to streamline and developing this way of working as it continues to demonstrate unyielding growth. We see yet another key turning point approaching as the talent cloud becomes the indispensable tools for resourcing: the switch from businesses just considering working with freelancers to businesses considering how to use the most efficient and people-friendly systems to find and work with the best freelancers. The revolution continues…

Author: Editorial Team

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