Corporations leaning on freelancers, expert says

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Major corporations are leaning on freelancers now more than ever before to help keep fixed costs down and avoid mass layoffs. 

That’s according to Shannon Denton, co-founder of Wripple, a platform that matches companies with vetted freelancers in real time. 

Denton’s coined this period the “freelancer economy,” a trend in which corporate America is embracing independent workers more than before to help with a variety of tasks like designing their website or plan events. 

Wripple partnered with independent research company MDRG to conduct two surveys. In total, it collected 200 surveys from freelancers and another 214 from marketing and human resource leaders at enterprise and mid-market companies who hire freelancers. 

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Over 90% of companies surveyed said they expected to work with freelancers in an even larger capacity over the course of the year, which is up from 42% in 2023. About 82% of freelancers plan to accept even more opportunities throughout 2024, up from 51% in 2023. 

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Denton has noticed a growing trend of workers who are more willing to freelance for individual projects and “don’t want to work for the boss.”

“It’s just a different mindset today,” he noted. “They [Gen zs] don’t see the value of working for a company” compared to older generations. 

In fact, a 2022 study by consulting firm McKinsey & Company underscored the growing number of Americans that have become independent workers

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In the American Opportunity Survey (AOS), 36% of respondents who were employed, which is equivalent to 58 million Americans when extrapolated from the representative sample, identified themselves as independent workers. That’s a notable increase from 2016 when 27% of the employed population said they were independent workers. 

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In the survey of 25,062 Americans, about 5,280 respondents who identify themselves as independent workers were “far more optimistic, both about their own futures and the outlook for the economy, than the average American worker,” according to McKinsey. 

The consulting firm said that this statistic was notable given the hardships they encounter such as lack of affordable healthcare and stability. 

Today, companies are also pushing for more freelancers, Denton argued, “especially when we’ve had so many up and down economic cycles and layoffs.” 

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Companies now see the value of hiring for work only when you need it, according to Denton.

“They have a lot more flexibility. They don’t have to ramp up and then do layoffs and incur fixed costs,” he added. 

On top of that, it’s also faster than having to hire an employee who will then go through onboarding and training for several days or weeks. 

With “a freelancer, you’re expecting them to know exactly what the work that needs to get done, and you’re maybe hiring them for a few weeks to crank it out,” Denton said. 

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