The US freelance workforce is currently 53 million strong, and growing fast*. In fact, right now freelancers make up 34% of our national workforce. Sarah Harowitz, executive director of Freelancers Union says, “This is an economic shift on par with the industrial revolution.”
Surprised? Don’t be. The rise of freelance workers is one of four documented workforce trends hitting organizations, and the statistics show that this particular trend is in full swing.
So what exactly is a freelance employee? Freelance workers are individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project-or-contract-based work in the past 12 months.
Some managers may groan at the thought of the increasing freelance population. They may think of freelance employees as difficult employees. That’s not true.
Sure, managing freelancers is a little different than managing full-time employees. Yet, a good manager already has the skills to manage freelance employees effectively; she just needs to understand common problems that occur when working with them. Then, she can put helpful protocols in place before things get tricky, and handle situations if they do.
What Kinds of Problems do Managers Face when Working with Freelancers?
Every employee is an individual, freelance or not, which means that possible problems with managing them are a managerial smorgasbord. Trying to address all possible problems is… impossible. Instead, in this series, I will focus on four common challenges managers face when working with freelancers.
Four Common Challenges Managers Face When Working with Freelancers
- Inefficient communication between managers and freelance employees
- Difficult collaboration between full-time employees and freelance employees
- Projects not being completed correctly or on time by freelance employees
… and the big whopper
- Trying to maintain organizational culture and values with freelance employees
Next week, we will dive deeper into how inefficient communication is common between managers and freelance employees. We’ll take a look at the problem, explore a case study, identify a solution, and walk through tips for implementing the solution.
The freelance workforce isn’t going anywhere. It’s one of the four major workplace trends organizations are currently facing, in addition to Baby Boomers retiring (40% of the workforce!), women leaving the workforce in droves, and the switch of the demographic makeup in the majority of the workforce. Managers taking time to work on their freelance management skills will benefit their own experience as a manager, and help the organization as a whole as it faces the future of work.
Are you a freelancer who has experienced a terrible manager, or a wonderful one? What behaviors contributed to both? Are you a manager who has freelance employees? What have you noticed is the most difficult about managing them as opposed to employees you see in the office day-to-day? I’m very interested in your experience. Tell me all about it in the comment section below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.
*All statistics from the first comprehensive survey on freelancing in eight years — done by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk.