Independent workers and freelancers now represent nearly one third of the entire U.S. workforce. That’s over 50 million people and the numbers are growing! This trend provides new and exciting short term or intermittent assignment opportunities for independent professionals in the new gig economy. Many already provide consulting, technical and expect subject matter services. However, the digital marketplace adds a new dimension.
The McKinsey & Company Global Institute Report on Independent Work: Choice Necessity, and the Gig Economy released in October 2016, provides significant insight into workforce transformation in the digital age. The report highlights key features of the digital marketplace and gig economy like the larger pools of supply and demand, the ease of joining and use as well as electronic payment systems, professional profiles and of course, better search and matching abilities.
The emerging independent workforce has a different profile than previous generations and in many cases, no longer willing to operate under the old rules. In her Harvard Business Review Article “Who Wins in the Gig Economy, and Who Loses,” published on October 27th, 2016, Diane Mulcahy writes – “Workers with specialized skills, deep expertise, or in-demand experience win in the gig economy…..The gig economy offers a much needed alternative model of work that can supplement or substitute for being a full-time employee in a full-time job.”
Independent consultants and freelancers want to participate in a professional marketplace where quality and flexibility are highly valued. Many of them want to operate from their hometown or for that matter anywhere within reach of a laptop or mobile phone as opposed to a structured traditional office setting. The gig economy provides the opportunity for them to operate independently in a broader market through an online nationwide network.
Not only do freelancers and other independent workers want to know about upcoming gigs, but they also want the ability to inform prospective clients of their interest in pursuing them. They also want simplicity and convenience when handling administrative matters, billing, non-disclosure agreements and conflict of interest statements and other “paperwork.”
Consultants and subject matter experts also want to be paid when their work is complete and accepted by their clients. This has historically been a significant area of concern for consultants with payments sometimes delayed for 60, 90 or in worse cases more than 180 days. The digital marketplace assures proper delivery and acceptance of services, followed by prompt payment in an efficient and convenient way.
Freelance consultants and subject matter experts are finding increasing opportunities to build their client portfolios while providing professional services to government contractors. The trend will likely continue to increase with a potential demand for additional government outsourcing. Taking advantage of these opportunities, experts and consultants will benefit most by including the digital marketplace in their strategy to compete and win.