While the issue of work-life balance has often made headlines on Business Insider and Harvard Business Review, a new, closely related phenomenon has slowly taken its hold on today’s business climate. Today’s contract workers, remote teams, and freelance workers have created a new, vibrant workforce with various dynamics and opportunities. Because of this new flexibility, many are leaving the physical workplace for the comfort of their own homes or entering it only for a season.
While any new phenomenon certainly has its challenges, the rise of this new workforce has many positives:
Because freelance workers are hired on an “as-needed” basis, their costs to the employer generally remain lower than that of traditional workers. Employers may decide not to hire contingent workers when there is little to be done or insufficient room in the budget, but traditional workers remain on the payroll regardless. Therefore, while freelance workers often charge more for their work, the yearly cost still remains lower.
While their counterparts are constricted to traditional schedules, freelance and remote workers have access to a much higher level of flexibility. For working mothers, students in school, or those simply looking for a change, this is absolutely ideal. Maria Wood of writes, “a Java script programmer raking in a hefty per-hour paycheck may decide to work for three to six months, then fly to Bali, return, and secure another plum assignment.” It is important to note that flexibility provides benefit for the employer, as well. For remote workers on payroll, this type of flexibility produces workplace satisfaction and, thus, lower turnover. The lower the turnover, the higher the profit.
When it comes to contingent employment, both parties benefit from a low level of obligation. On the one hand, the employee is free to work for multiple organizations on multiple projects as he or she sees fit. On the other hand, Wood writes that corporations can “employ a more elastic workforce, or one that could contract in bad economic times and then expand when revenues were more flush and additional labor is warranted” ( ). When one corporation fails to employ the contingent worker, he or she may move on to the next. The former has the freedom to employ as it wishes, and the latter has the freedom to work as he or she wishes.
How will you take steps to embrace the new workforce?