The Freelance Revolution: Working In A Post-COVID World

Apr 22, 2020 Susan Marshall

It Has To Be the Right Partnership At Torchlite, we're obviously fans of independent contractors and freelancers. Over the years, we've grown to love these problem solving, creative entrepreneurs and do everything we can to support their careers. In fact, we are a catalyst to matching professional freelancers with the brands that need their skills on demand. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. So naturally, we are concerned about the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and  consequences for freelancers and independent professionals. According to the New York Times at least 316 million people in the US, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are being urged to stay home. Many of those people will be forced to reconsider how and where they work, some jumping into the independent contract business full time. We at Torchlite are here to help with that transition.   Implications For The Freelance Revolution PwC has helpfully published two interesting reports. The first is PwC’s 2020 CEO survey, published at the end of March, and involving chief executives from a variety of industries and geographies. The second is a survey of corporate CFO executives, also recently published.  This month, Forbes provided a summary of the CEO study main findings, followed by some interesting implications for the freelance revolution.  Worth a read, but here are the highlights. It's good news for our freelancers: Finance talent transformation is a key emphasis.  Half (50%) of CFOs describe their team as lacking the right skills mix to meet future business needs. Moreover, 60% believe that stable, long-term employment, is less likely in the future. Taken together, it’s fairly evident from the PwC and BCG reports that freelance and independent management consulting opportunity is likely to increase and broaden as a result of COVID 19. What might we expect: More companies are likely to access freelancers both for cost efficiency and to supplement critical skill sets. Without doubt, freelancing enables a more cost and time efficient approach to supplementing or adding critical technical skills. But, beyond cost efficiency, freelancing makes it possible to attract world-class talent that would be unavailable to most organizations on a full-time basis.  Perhaps the expert wouldn’t be interested in full-time work, or his or her full-time cost would blow up the staffing budget. But, she or he would be available on a project basis, or as a consulting advisor.   4IR offers interesting and important freelance work and lots of it.  Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum described the fourth industrial revolution this way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”  These are seen as critical investment areas, and no organization has the internal staff to independently realize the potential of 4IR. Remember, companies like Alphabet, Apple and Facebook - able to access tremendous resources - continues to depend on freelancers to fill out their teams. Freelancing, on a global scale, will grow significantly to meet the 4IR challenge. Freelancers are a critical resource to more industries. As BCG points out, freelancing is undeterred by industrial boundaries. Whether in agriculture, finance or education, most organizations lack the full set of skills and experiences they will need to take full advantage of future global and regional growth opportunities.  More areas of freelancing will grow in importance. The data sends a very clear message: freelancing will grow in a widening range of professional areas. We’ve already seen the rise of independent management consulting platforms, and the growth of new platforms in an ever growing set of professions. More companies are partnering with freelance platforms to build a more flexible, blended workforce. A Changed Economy As the danger of COVID 19 passes, and executives rework their businesses, reinventing in the context of broken supply chains, skill gaps, and digital transformational requirements, freelancing  has an exciting and attractive future. At Torchlite we have the tools and expertise to help freelancers and independent contractors thrive in our changed economy. For many companies, the work doesn’t stop even if the workers can’t be onsite. The expert freelancers who have the talents and skills that are in high demand can define where and how they work, compensation, and many other specifications around how they do their work. Join Torchlite’s network of freelancers today. Vive la Revolution!

Read More

4 Statistics That Make the Case for an On-Demand Workforce

Jun 12, 2019 Emily Brungard

We live in a world that’s moving at hyperspeed. Customers want more, and they want it faster. Demands on your team are growing at an impossible rate. Technology is enabling us to do more, but it will only take you so far without the people who know how to use it. With all of these demands, you may not have had the chance to consider integrating everything (customers, your internal team, and technology) to make your job easier. But we’ve found the key to keeping up with these demands comes down to talent: having the right people at the right time. If you need more convincing, consider these statistics: 68% of HR pros have trouble attracting top full-time talent Highly skilled freelance experts have the leverage to do work on their terms. More and more freelancers, especially the ones with highly sought after talents, are leaving the 9-to-5 world for more flexible work lives. This is only confirmed by the fact that, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, more than two-thirds of HR managers have experienced difficulties attracting the best talent to their open full-time roles. By 2026, Fortune 2000 companies will have no employees outside of the C-suite In the next decade, could you be saying goodbye to your traditional org chart? Accenture predicts that by 2026, the most successful companies won’t employ people outside of the executive team. As this liquid workforce evolves, companies will double down on the value of having the people with the exact expertise they need, at just the right time. That means instead of hiring a full-time technical expert for a project that requires heavy lifting at first but then tapers off, companies can bring in an expert to implement their new tech or tool and then continue contracting on an hourly or project basis. What does that mean? More money in your marketing budget to drive results. 30% of headcount spend is put toward on-demand workers Enterprise companies are dedicating a third of their headcount budgets to contingent workers, independent contractors, and freelancers. When a project comes up that the company’s internal team doesn’t have the skills to complete, on-demand experts enable them to navigate roadblocks and continue moving the needle. In other words, they help companies get around the situations that would have stopped them in their tracks before. Nearly half of businesses can’t find the on-demand talent they need According to SAP Fieldglass, 45% of businesses are experiencing a shortage of on-demand experts. In other words, they can’t find the people they need to get everything done, and it’s affecting productivity and results. Non-employee talent makes up 40% of the global workforce today, and they’re not just filling administrative or support roles — they’re the people making strategic decisions that move these companies forward. Searching for the right people to fill gaps on your marketing or professional services team? Tap into Torchlite’s network of experts today.

Read More

Hiring On-Demand Marketers: 7 Pros and Cons

Nov 21, 2018 Emily Brungard

In today's competitive, evolving marketplace, an agile methodology could mean the difference between becoming a booming business or closing your doors. With more than 41.8 million independent workers in America, hiring freelancers is one of the most effective solutions to securing top talent without going over budget — and there are plenty to choose from. Yet, like everything in business and in life, there are pros and cons to hiring freelancers. By taking the time to do your homework, you’ll save time, money, and headaches. Read on for seven pros and cons of hiring independent contractors. Pro: The Cost When you factor in the cost of recruiting, salary, benefits and company perks, and desk space taken up in the office, hiring a full-time employee can become pretty costly. The average employee hiring process costs $4,129 and takes 42 days. Who needs to spend that much extra time and money? Companies save, on average, between 20 and 30 percent annually by hiring an independent contractor. Going along with cost, the risk associated with hiring freelancers is lower, because you only need to hire and pay freelancers when there's work to be done. Because you work with them on a project-by-project basis, the worry of digging yourself into a payroll hole during downtimes is lessened. Con: Less Face-to-Face Interaction Given that most freelance work is done remotely, you shouldn’t expect to see your freelancer every day. Clear communication is essential in any working relationship, but it’s especially paramount when working with freelancers. Your freelancer isn’t in the office every day so they’re not privy to water cooler convos or even major announcements unless you share the news with them. You are their primary source of information on all things related to your business and your marketing initiatives. Don’t assume they have any insight into changes, progress, setbacks, or glitches, and always err on the side of over-communicating to prevent misunderstandings. See 8 ways to work better with your freelancers. Pro: Marketplaces Make Hiring Easier Than Ever Marketplaces like Torchlite facilitate long-term relationships between full-time freelance experts and marketers so that you can unlock the value of your marketing technology, get more done and compete in a digital world. We only connect you with the best freelancers (check out our vetting process here) — so you can rest easy knowing that the marketers you’re trusting with work will follow through. Marketplaces like Torchlite give you a full view of the experts you can access at any time, and facilitate the onboarding process. Con: Less Consistency With a freelancer, you have a specialist — but the tradeoff is that they may not have the historical knowledge that a full-time employee would have. Your independent contractor has the know-how to get the tasks you assign done, but they won’t be as familiar with your organization’s marketing strategies, what has been tried, and what direction to take things in the future. However, freelancers offer unmatched flexibility and can come on to a project whenever the need arises. Pro: You’re Not Limited to Local Talent Companies look to freelancers to find talent outside their current location. Expansion or an understanding of new markets can be made without onboarding a full-time employee. This allows you to bring new perspectives to your team. Con: You’re Not the Only Client An independent contractor’s job is to make clients happy and provide business results. The reality is that a freelancer is likely working on making several clients happy at a time. However, it’s also in the best interest of an independent contractor to get results for their client in order to build up clientele as well as reputation. This means that the freelancer’s time isn’t dedicated solely to you — they’re juggling many different requests, one-time projects, and strategies. A freelancer might also choose to perform the work outside of normal business hours, making immediate contact difficult without prior planning. Pro: Access to Specialized Talent Freelancers tend to focus on just one or two things that they’ve gained complete mastery of over the years. If you want to hire a content marketer, then you’ll get someone who specializes in content marketing and little else. This is far better than forcing someone from business development to make an attempt at content marketing because you simply can’t afford to hire another full-time employee. As a third party, a freelancer will be able to work on your campaign from a point of view that you may not have previously considered. Hiring isn’t something that should be done lightly, no matter if you’re searching for a full-time employee or a freelancer to complete a one-off project. It’s not always easy to find top talent, which is why Torchlite exists. We make it easier to connect with the top four percent of specialists to get more work done without breaking your budget. Connect with an expert today.

Read More

Retaining Top Freelance Talent: It’s Like Dating

Jul 18, 2018 Emily Brungard

When you find top freelance talent, you don't want to lose them. It's hard enough to find a full-time employee, let alone an amazing freelancer who understands your industry and your specific business. In that way, it’s a little like dating—you have to learn someone’s preferences, talents and expectations in order to click. And for freelancers, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Deloitte Insights’ research suggests that employee retention and engagement are the number two concern in the minds of business leaders, second only to the challenge of building global leadership. This statistic isn’t just relevant to full-time employees—it’s a trend that has made its way into the 1099 workforce. Workers are more like free agents than ever before. So how do you keep them engaged? Allow Ramp Up Time Hiring a freelancer helps you save on recruiting costs by getting to work sooner, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need ramp up time. If you truly want the best quality work from your on-demand help, give them a chance to learn your preferences and learn about your brand. If you routinely switch freelancers after just one project, they may not have the chance to ramp up properly. After your first project, be sure to set a meeting to provide feedback, review expectations and see how you can work better together. It can be as simple as spending five minutes at the end of an engagement discussing what went right and what went wrong, but more frequent feedback is even better. Set Expectations Early Consider offering your freelancers a fixed monthly retainer if you like their work and plan to keep sending projects their way. Include a set amount of work in the monthly retainer, and get their rates for any work that falls outside of it, so they can bill you the extra as needed. Don’t fall into the trap of making your relationship with freelancers purely transactional. If you want to get to work with them again in the future, make sure to treat your freelancer like they’re a true extension of your internal team. Communicate Frequently Treat them like they’re a part of your team, even if they’re not in the office next to you every day. Don’t just rely on written text. Schedule a video or voice call to convey more details. While it might seem like it takes too much time, doing this up front can actually improve clarity, prevent misunderstandings, and save time later on. This also helps you establish a closer connection. Don’t limit interactions with freelancers to just your own. Connect them to more team members to help them learn about your projects and business. Understand You’re Not Their Only Client Because you’re likely not your freelancer’s only client, you have an opportunity. When was the last time you asked for their advice? With a diverse portfolio of work, it’s likely that the freelancer(s) you work with can provide a unique perspective on the content you’re putting out. In the same vein, remember that the freelancers you work with could be working with several clients at the same time, including you. One of the advantages of freelancing is flexibility, so if a client frequently shoots over urgent last-minute projects or expects the freelancer to be available 24/7 (unless specific times of availability were agreed upon), chances are that freelancer will look for work elsewhere. Pay on Time The best freelancers are in very high demand. They can pick and choose their clients. In fact, freelancers might decide to stop working with you entirely if you don’t treat them well. More than 70 percent of freelancers have trouble getting paid at some point in their careers, and 29 percent of freelance invoices are paid late. It’s not difficult to get ahead of this problem: be transparent with your freelancers about how your company’s fiscal year runs, how long it typically takes to process invoices and how it pays its contract workers. The keys to successful freelance relationships are a lot like what it takes to be successful in any other relationship: transparency and communication are key. By setting expectations early and reviewing those expectations often, you set yourself and your freelancer up for success.  Implementing these tips may nurture what could ultimately become mission-critical relationships for you and your company. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Are you a freelancer looking for your next gig? Sign up and join Torchlite today.  

Read More