Liquid Workforce – A Case for Freelancers

In this day and age of AI, where companies are seeking agility, adaptability, and expertise to compete in a dynamic environment, it also demands an increasing number of remote and flexible workplaces. Liquid Workforce is a viable option business may explore. It is a term coined by Accenture in 2016. “A liquid workforce is one in which a firm draws from a variety of resources in order to meet business needs, then adjusts those resources as needs change”, says their blog. It includes regular employees, internal pools, contract workers, and consultants. The mix can be uniquely adapted to meet specific business needs. The “liquidity” does not come from simply blending various combinations of internal and external workforce. It also is derived from recombining internal resources to achieve individual development goals. A liquid workforce can also potentially be a solution to a fluctuating workforce, such as the one we are facing now in the Pandemic.

The Freelance work is hardly a novel concept. A vast number of individuals in the creative fields have long operated as freelancers. For educated professionals in fields like IT, marketing, and finance, however, this may be unheard of. Nevertheless, the increased normalization of remote work, and the increased risk of being deemed redundant, have allowed more people to think of the possibilities of freelancing. Furthermore, the current rise in the accessibility to online training and certifications allows them to learn new skills independently. In the process, they are becoming more attractive to conventional businesses that may require a particular skill-set for a short length of time.

Why use a Liquid Workforce?

Liquid Workforce can be adapted in the current scenarios where a large number of your employees have the potential to fall sick and may not able to contribute to the growing demands of the company. By leveraging this contrivance, businesses can achieve the much-needed agility and flexibility they require, and if managed properly can increase employee engagement, and achieve greater efficiency & cost control. Business demands change faster than permanent employees can keep up. It maybe is easier to employ a freelancer than to re-train your employee.

1.  Specialized Skills

The skills and talent are aplenty. It is just a matter of targeting the right platforms for the hiring process. Software developers, business consultants, content writers, marketers, designers, accountants, lawyers, and even salespeople are just a few options to choose from depending on your requirements. Once you make your decision, you will need to sign a contract that will enable them to start immediately.

2.  Reduced Cost

Some companies work with a project-based workflow. This is coupled with the fact that repeated lockdowns and restrictions becoming a norm now, businesses are forced to adopt a hybrid model. Once a project is complete, a freelancer can be released without further burdens on the organization, unless they have accepted a new contract. By burdens, we mean health benefits and/or pensions to guarantee. Additionally, if there is no requirement for an office, such as when the tasks can be completed without being physically present in the office, companies can save 30% to 40% annually. This amplifies the employer’s option to ramp up or pull back on spending on freelancers. Furthermore, if this can be adapted as a standard policy for your firm, it will be easier to draw up a standardized onboarding process for freelancers.

3.  Quality

For freelancers, their bread and butter depend on the quality of their work and repeat contracts. The relationships they maintain are the only way they can ensure this. Hence, they aim to deliver the best work in terms of quality. Employees tend to be complacent thinking that a bad week may not affect their pay but freelancers know that contracts are subject to renewals. It is possible to read customer reviews on their profiles. A quick interview or meeting can help verify their profile and align your expectations.

4.  Agility

For freelancers, innovation is not just a buzzword; rather it is part of their working methodology. They are a breed of professionals who have embraced the uncertainty that comes with freelancing and, hence, developed the flexibility to thrive in such an environment. They possess an ability to understand complex ideas, communicate them and roll them out quickly. When hiring a freelancer, talk to them about their project management styles and understand their communication styles and ways of collaborations.

5.  Globalization

Workplace Flexibility, which we discussed in a previous blog, has already given us the option to explore talent outside our geographical limits. Adding to that parameter is the option of hiring a freelancer over a permanent employee. This potentially means reduced costs and getting insights into new markets. Using freelancers instead of a permanent employee may help minimize in case the relationship does not pan out. A possible pitfall that you can avoid here is the right communication fit with your employee. This is more than just speaking a common language. You and your freelancer must be able to understand each other fully or this may cause project delays and holdups. Communicate and agree upon every aspect of the project upfront and avoid misunderstandings.

According to Forbes, the Liquid workforce is becoming increasingly valuable to businesses worldwide. This may be a reality we are looking at in talent acquisition strategies in the UAE as well. Companies are pitted against global competition today, and so they must learn to engage a liquid workforce or risk falling behind. A liquid workforce, if utilized appropriately, can even drive down their operational costs and pump up revenues.