The internet facilitated the dynamic growth of freelancing and made it easier for independent professionals to publish their profiles. It facilitated an efficient and expansive search alternative for those seeking the services of these professionals. Freelancers are unconstrained by geography or limited to cold calling, print advertisements and local networks to find freelance opportunities.
The freelance job portals first made their presence online in 2009 when Freelancer.com launched its website with a new type of hiring model. It became the platform where freelancers could sign up for a fee and bid for projects that are posted by clients. For a client, they could recruit someone for the project rapidly, for the freelancer, there was a single platform that listed all the job opportunities in their field.
Even before freelancer.com came on the map, companies were advertising jobs for freelancers and freelancers were applying for jobs advertised on online job portals. However, the problem with such jobs was that everything was done on faith. A freelancer could leave the job mid-way or be underqualified for the role. On the other hand, after the work was completed, the client could leave the freelancer unpaid. Besides these, many issues that cost conflict of interest may occur.
The freelance job site offers a secure space for the freelancer and the business where they can focus entirely on the project with confidence in the platform to manage the administrative aspects of the transaction. Over the past decade, the confidence in online freelance platforms has grown and even Fortune 500 companies are now leveraging them to source specialised talent. Many companies find that the conventional staffing process does not always align with their operations. While previously teams were determined by what work was performed, today it is determined by its composition. It is no longer a choice between a freelancer and a permanent member, but a healthy balance of both.
The Internet is the main propagator of the dynamic growth of freelancing. Though management or technical consultants have been hired by companies all the time, most of them learnt about the opportunity through word-of-mouth marketing or by pitching their services to companies and submitting tenders. The internet has created an efficient way to publish one’s profile and submit a proposal for a project. Companies can create a wider search net and access talent that was previously out of reach. It gives both, the freelancer, and the business an avenue to grow their earning potential.
Instead of cold calling, a freelancer can now browse the projects as per their domain expertise and apply for the role. In the past few months, we are witnessing phenomena such as “quiet quitting” where rather than submit to the hustle culture, employees are asserting themselves by not going above and beyond the scope of their roles. In the same drift, a growing number of skilled professionals are abandoning the traditional 9-to-5 employment to work on a task-by-task basis for various employers.
Though larger IT companies such as Wipro, TCS, and Infosys view moonlighting as unethical, however, companies such as Swiggy have embraced it and created frameworks to extend their support to their employees to meet them halfway. Companies cannot view moonlighting as a threat, in many roles moonlighting is an opportunity. It is an earning opportunity for the employee which, to be fair, they will be hesitant to pass up. It can be viewed as a skill training opportunity that will expand the employee’s knowledge and experience base while adding to their perspective. The company can benefit from the employee’s connections and knowledge. At any rate, it will be safer for a company to create frameworks to accommodate freelancing rather than ban it by viewing it as a threat.
Full-time jobs come with inherent values that get ingrained in employees and help in creating a mutually beneficial environment. It fosters the company culture and promotes business growth as employees work towards a common goal which is set by the management. Many skilled professionals prefer to work with an organisation as full-time employees because of the inherent benefits such as regular monthly income, health care benefits, opportunities for professional growth and much more. Also, not everyone has the entrepreneurial flair that is required from a full-time freelancer. They thrive and perform better as employees working in their field, completely focused on their roles.
There are specialists and then there are generalists. While full-time employees are also specialists in their field, freelancers are specialists who perform specific tasks which the company needs to be done under special circumstances. They plug the human resource gap through timely intervention.
As more companies recognise this, the growth of the freelance community is augmented and with the support of technology, which is getting cheaper and more accessible, their role and relevance will continue to increase.