Around 40 per cent of Britons have considered becoming freelancers, according to research carried out for National Freelancers Day in mid-June 2022. That won’t surprise anyone who has followed the story of the ‘Great Resignation’ that has seen people in many parts of the world going freelance following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery.
Even before that there was a growing trend for freelance work. In the US, for example, the size of the freelance workforce tripled between 2014 and 2017. That has brought with it a shift in power.
In the technology sector in particular, where talent is scarce, freelance workers are essentially interviewing companies, rather than the other way round.
Even those companies who promise bountiful in-house benefits are finding it hard to retain their top talent.
These freelancers benefit from a growing support infrastructure. Public talent clouds, for example, have given them the opportunity to view a wealth of work opportunities and take the ones that suit.
But the top freelancers are demanding more: the rise of Private Talent Clouds gives them an opportunity to retain the best of freelance life with added benefits that were once available only to employees.
Risk holds back would-be freelancers
Nevertheless, research shows that 75 percent of freelance work comes from ‘side hustles’ – extra work people take on while keeping a role as an employee.
Some are doing this to make extra money while living costs are rising but others are doing the job they would actually prefer to do if they could bring themselves to go freelance.
According to the National Freelancers Day survey, more than half of those who say they wouldn’t go freelance are put off by the lack of a fixed regular income, while a similar amount is worried about job security.
Those are very real issues for freelancers, who also have to deal with mundane concerns like client communications, chasing payments, and project admin, alongside more profound worries like limited career progression and feeling isolated.
But things are changing.
As the support infrastructure for freelancers continues to expand and the volume of available projects increases, it will become easier for people to make the jump.
The more risk we can eliminate, the more likely it is that people will ditch their unfulfilling employee roles and start freelancing in a role they really enjoy.
The benefits of Private Talent Clouds
Private Talent Clouds are already tackling many of these problems, giving freelancers a better work-life balance and more choice of when they work, which projects they take, and who they work with.
A Private Talent Cloud turns freelancing into a career, with a regular income, career progression, stability, and recognition – all without sacrificing the autonomy and freedom that attracts people to freelance work in the first place.
As the name suggests, Private Talent Clouds are not open to just anyone.
Companies like Distributed carefully vet everyone who joins, ensuring they have the skills and experience to take on the kind of projects available.
Once onboard, freelancers can concentrate on what they do best and leave everything else to the infrastructure of the talent cloud. Admin and account management tasks are handled for you, for example.
Similarly, Distributed can line up project work for the next couple of years, providing security and a clear sense of skills progression over the coming projects.
Not every freelancer wants the same thing
Private talent clouds only succeed if they treat talent differently.
They aren’t employers but neither are they recruitment consultants or temping agencies. They must understand what freelancers want and find projects that meet those needs.
Not every freelancer wants the same thing.
They enjoy different types of projects, work best on different kinds of teams, and so on. Some freelancers like to work with familiar people as much as possible because they can adopt familiar ways of working. Others prefer working with new people so they can explore new ways to work and build their experience.
Of course, there are still things that frustrate everyone. Few freelancers like being put on a contract as the only senior developer on a team of juniors. They are then expected to train their team in some of the skills needed to get the job done.
That isn’t to say they don’t want to help younger colleagues. Many experienced technology specialists enjoy the chance to act as mentors and pass on some of their hard-learned knowledge. The difference is how the project is structured and what support is available.
Freelancers with benefits
Distributed understands these concerns and plenty of others. We’ve spoken to, and worked with, lots of freelancers to understand their pain points and how they work best. Regular pay is a big concern.
Why should freelancers wait 90 days to get paid when staffers doing the same work are getting paid monthly? Why can’t someone else handle the admin burden?
But we can go further than that, too.
A Private Talent Cloud brings access to a community of like-minded professionals, which helps to remove some of the isolation that freelancers sometimes feel. And there are benefits like sick pay and private healthcare – the kinds of things that freelancers know they need to provide for themselves, but very often let slip.
Joining a Private Talent Cloud is straightforward and starts by submitting your showcase on our site. From there you’ll be contacted by one of our team, who will take you through the next steps of the process.
If you’re interested in finding out more, watch our short on-demand webinar on “Solving your freelance developer issues” here.