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Workforce Redefined: How Freelancing Became A Fully Fledged B2B Relationship

By Billy Cripe
Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Freelancers are no longer temporary employees accessed in a last-minute panic—they are their own skilled workforce.

The continued and explosive growth of the freelance workforce is nothing short of amazing. It shows no sign of stopping or slowing as patterns in the traditional world of work change. With this type of transformation, however, comes a re-alignment of engagement and relationships. It is important that enterprises recalibrate their understanding of the external and extended freelance workforce.

In a study on this segment, Field Nation asked their user base how they view themselves.

The data shows that a majority of freelancers self-identify as entrepreneurs and small business owners, which is a trend that holds true whether it regards a single independent contractor or a company that provides contract-based project management and managed services.

The results of this survey clearly indicate that the freelance workforce is a highly skilled, distributed, and readily-available B2B resource. It also informs the way in which enterprises must engage with this newly defined labor force. Enterprises must evolve their thinking and see freelancers not as individuals who fill the gaps or provide ad-hoc coverage, but rather as a full-fledged B2B workforce.

B2B relationships have an expectation around visibility, accountability, and control that impacts strategic planning and execution. The Field Nation platform manages and delivers a full lifecycle of project execution with the new external and extended workforce.

Freelancers should never feel victimized by what they do and enterprises should avoid viewing these skilled experts as warm bodies that can fill an unexpected gap. Freelancers already see themselves as businesses and freelance management platforms deliver the strategic visibility, accountability, and control expected in a B2B relationship.

It is time for enterprises to move their contingent workforce engagement out of departmental and operational budgets and into the strategic discussion.

Related Article: The Future of Work: Freelancing Goes From Rags to Riches

Stop Taking Freelancers For Granted

Fueled by an almost constant innovation of technology, combined with rapidly changing lifestyles and values, the freelance world is growing at a record speed, outpacing the progress seen in conventional markets. In 2014, a study found that no less than 53 million Americans were freelancing, and by 2020, experts estimate that 40 percent of workers will be earning their money online—and why not?

The world that we live in today allows businesses to access incredible, specific talent regardless of where the organization is—or the currency that they transact in. Indeed, freelancers are no longer a temporary option addressed in case of an emergency—they are an opportunity for companies to reach across the furthest corners of the earth to collect the most effective and skilled workers.

The freelance economy as it exists today is not about accessing "temporary" and convenient labor—instead, these independent workers are experienced, strategic, and professional members of the B2B workforce.

Companies that can embrace this transformation should reap the rewards associated with exceptional work from a steady stream of highly-skilled professionals.

On the other hand, those left behind are bound to suffer. With the delays and costs associated with hiring full-time staff constantly rising, and the fact that the top talent in the industry often refuses to take part in the common 9-to-5 business day, old fashioned companies will lose their edge, fast.

Related Article: Should Freelancers Form a Business Entity?

The Real Modern Day B2B Workforce

Now that so many workers are officially adopting the route of self-employment, large enterprises in the B2B industry must consider at least branching into a hybrid workforce which includes both freelance, and full-time teams.

Employee loyalty is changing in the world today, as talented individuals are more interested in finding a place where they can show their skills. Today, freelancers are the preferred solution for many businesses, allowing companies to achieve enviable levels of talent, and respond to specialist briefs that they may not have been able to achieve otherwise.

Just like working with any other B2B entity, working with a freelancer gives a business access to technology and skill that they can't necessarily engage in-house. What's more, the barrage of new technology that exists today means that it's possible to create a constant point of contact between the talent, and the industry.

Not so long ago, college graduates were lining up to take their place in full-time jobs at global enterprises. Yet today, with advancements such as the internet, a new phenomenon is taking place.

Some of the most skilled B2B workers in the world have discovered that they don't need to suffer with large commutes and uninteresting jobs. Instead, freelancers can establish their own entrepreneurial startups and small businesses, and use their talents to collaborate with other companies in need of specific skills.

Working with Freelancers Is a Win-Win Situation

The global workforce today is in the midst of an incredible transformation, wherein new small freelance businesses are emerging to address every need, and every opportunity. The freelance revolution has not only begun to change the way that tasks are completed, but it's also improving the quality, availability, and affordability of B2B partnerships.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes can come together with freelance talent to create solutions that require no physical proximity whatsoever. Those who are ready to welcome this future with open arms could find that they fill the gaps that their industry has been missing for quite some time.

Just because some freelancers work from home doesn't make them any less of a business. Startups frequently begin within a spare room or home office and grow to something incredibly beneficial. What's more, research from Stanford University has found that workers located at home are 13 percent more productive.

Freelancers are no longer temporary employees accessed in a last-minute panic—they are their own skilled workforce.

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