Should we be happy or worried about the rise of freelancing?

If being a freelancer is trendy, status is nothing new! It dates back to the Middle Ages when soldiers offered their services to the king for payment. Today, freelancers are putting their skills at the service of the business world, and their number is growing. Are they a boon to companies and a menace to the workforce? Let’s try to make it clear.

Freelancing is a trend that is gaining momentum over time

Let’s take a leap in time and transport ourselves from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century.e century in the United States. We find there that the middle classes are choosing to live on the outskirts, while urban centers are becoming job pools. However, public transport, which was still underdeveloped at that time, made it difficult for the “suburban worker” model, which would later find its cause. However, the invention of the telephone would inspire Jack Nilles and Franck Schiff with a new business organization they would call “telecommunications”. This would simply involve working remotely for oneself using Graham Bell’s invention, leading to what would later be called ‘freelancing’. However, this phenomenon will remain more than marginal, and we need to make a new temporal and technological leap to see its use increase. Indeed it is at the end of xxe century, with the advent of the Internet, that freelancing will flourish. Since then, it has continued to advance until it really exploded thanks to the recent health crisis … Today it represents approx 57 million Number of employees in the United States, 22 million in Europe, and about 4.5 million in France. According to Forbes, in the last decade, it has increased by 145% worldwide, creating emulators not only in technological professions, but also in the most diverse functions: photography, training, marketing, communication. , translation, writing, sales. , HR… and even management, with the increasing power of interim management.

Freelancers are a boon to companies

If employees are increasingly valuing freelancing, surely employers are too! According to the networking platform Izyfreelance*, 57% of French companies used it in 2021 and more than 4 out of 10 companies said they are increasing their numbers. The main reason cited is a lack of talent, but companies also, of course, value the flexibility, adaptability and high level of experience of these freelancers. Hiring a freelancer also means playing with geographical criteria… He can be welcomed and integrated into the company, and the company can contribute to the territorial network without having to worry about its own logistics or land. . A company can also afford to find resources on its own ad hoc on the other side of the world, while avoiding the HR constraints associated with international employee mobility.

Is Freelancing a Threat to the Workforce?

If one day freelancing tempts so many people that no one wants to be an employee anymore, this does not pose a threat to traditional employment contracts (temporary, CDD and CDI) in the short and medium term. Moreover, some workers, such as delivery workers, drivers and other low-wage “online microworkers” only accept their self-employed status and wish to be paid. What’s more, even when freelancing is a considered option, it’s clear that it’s not for everyone.

Being self-employed requires autonomy, obviously, but also many qualities and skills. A freelancer must be an expert in his field, but this is not enough, he must also wear many suits: commercial, accountant, communicator, etc. And like every businessman, he must be serious, persistent, creative… In short, some of them break their teeth and return to work, get managers, colleagues, permanent income!

On the business side, madness for freelancers also comes up against certain limitations. The first is financial, because contrary to what one might imagine, outsourcing a mission to a freelancer is not always cheaper than accepting a salary and all the charges that go along with it. Some experts (especially in IT or interim management) charge daily rates that can be exorbitant (€600 or even €1,000 in some cases), often with commissions or fees added, which the HR responsible for finding paid to companies. rare gems. Even taking into account the advantage of “stop and go” (the ability to start and stop commercial relationships according to the company’s needs), rewarding a freelancer can be more expensive than paying an employee. . Finally, the internal life of a company today cannot be imagined without the constant melting of resources formed by its employees. Beyond its economic model, it is on this foundation that the company defines its cause, values, team spirit, and sense of belonging. Of course, building a company requires dedicated and long-term employees, which is impossible if they are all freelancers! The latter, if valuable, therefore often remain adjustment variables, thanks to which the company produces, develops, but does not build.

*Survey conducted between July 1 and September 10, 2021 with more than 500 HRD, CEO and C-level (management positions) in France

Valerie Mackett

Copywriter, writing consultant, author, biographer, educator for adults

After being manager of a communications agency, deputy director of a weekly newspaper, then commercial manager of a team of key account sellers, I was fed up with the juggling act…

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