It’s no secret that the way we work is changing. Through the pandemic, we’ve seen two big shifts that are likely to persist long past the end of it: remote working and the ‘freelance revolution’. We’ve already seen the ways freelancers and companies can benefit from this, with increased flexibility and lower costs in building teams. As the economy comes surging back, these forces will continue to reshape our working lives and businesses. In order to keep up, companies and freelancers will have to evolve. And within this shift, there’s one evolution of the model that’s not getting as much attention. That is, how the future of work is freelance collaboration, and how this ‘human cloud’ can drop overheads for your company.
The freelance world is experiencing revolutionary change. We’ve heard a lot about the ‘passion economy’, where ‘solopreneurs’ monetise hobbies and skills. But beyond the hype of the passion economy, skilled workers are a huge part of this revolution too. Overall, the freelance job market grew by over 25% between April to June 2020. The most common type of work in this boom? Skilled services, with 45% of freelancers providing programming, marketing, and other consulting services. And as Owl Labs conclude in their report, millions of workers want to keep working remotely. With this growing community of remote working freelancers, expected to make up 50% of the total US workforce by 2027, we’re entering the era of the ‘human cloud’.
This shift means business leaders have to re-evaluate their workforces and companies are turning to freelancers for help, but the traditional freelancing model brings new challenges. Recruiting, onboarding, coordinating, and administering freelancers cost time and resources. Clients want more SOW, but less to coordinate. The freelancing model’s inflexibility in capacity and capabilities can be high risk when facing changes in demand, and traditional professional services firms can also be expensive, slow, and inflexible.
And of course, freelancers face challenges too. Freelance work has the potential to be isolating and precarious, and sources of income can quickly become unreliable. Even for the lucky ones, facing busy periods – with an overload of work but a reluctance to turn it down – can lead to disillusionment and burnout. So how can we move past this? By reimagining freelancing. Where teams of freelancers can collaborate, and become agile, enterprise-level suppliers and enterprises take full advantage of the human cloud. This new model brings with it all the reward, but much less risk.
Companies that invest in great talent build great teams. What if you could fast forward some steps and pick an efficient, enterprise-level team of top talent? Trust them to handle entire projects and deliver success. Freelancers still get the perks – the flexibility, independence, and variety of work – with the chance to build their own community and boost workload. This team model – or ‘virtual companies’ – allows freelancers to collaboratively offer, contract, and execute projects as if they were a real firm. They can create the conditions to deliver at scale. Forbes makes the benefits clear in their report on the future of freelancing: build your team, win bigger projects. Naming it as a key trend in 2021, they wrote, “Teaming and “hunting in packs” enables freelancers to compete for larger, more complex, enterprise work.” Forbes also points to companies like Vicoland as being at the frontier of this new model: “they see the future of freelancing as team-based and support the creation of teams that are ready-to-go”. For companies, freelance teams can be entirely plug and play. You can move quickly and gain fast access to a full suite of skills. Outsourcing to smaller enterprise-like freelance teams allows you to work with the legions of freelancers ready and waiting with the skills they need now.
Even in the world of agencies, workflow is unpredictable, and you don’t want to find yourself turning down work. A ‘virtual company’ could be on standby to support your team only in busy periods, or if you want to outsource an entire project, but still keep the margins. With a ready-made team of experts who can jump into projects and add value immediately, you have less to coordinate. Pick a ready-built team, vetted by specialists, and with Vicoland, only invest in the work they do that’s responsible for your success. And forget compliance worries: gain help from trusted freelancers without facing potential worker misclassification risks. Put simply, virtual companies, or ‘Vicos’, offer the best of the growing human cloud. And they can cut costs by 30%, compared to traditional professional services firms.
As more and more skilled workers see the benefit of freelancing, the world of work continues to evolve. This new frontier has teamwork at its heart. And, after a pandemic that showed the value of community, it’s a change we could all get behind.