Welcome to the freelance revolution in the era of COVID-19. This is the third report, and invites freelance business and thought leaders to comment on topics of importance as the global economy works through the pandemic.
One of hottest topics among freelancers this week is the future of remote work. That’s my question this week to freelance leaders: How do you see the medium and longer term impact on your business of the current ‘shift to remote’ of your clients because of COVID-19?
Overall, leaders see remote as a game changer and a win/win for freelancers, organizations and employees. But, sustainability needs a firm foundation: the right investment, good operational plumbing, smart HR systems, strong soft skills, and outstanding communication.
Leaders also say that freelance platforms, remote and distributed from day one, are uniquely able to educate, support and partner with organizations turning to remote distributed teams. Companies are learning that remote distributed, teams easily “plug and play” with enterprise freelance platforms. That, in turn, leads to the next step in a tech powered future of work: blurring the distinction between employee and freelancer.
Here are the observations that our freelance revolution leaders shared:
Ben Huffman, CEO of Contra: “There is a fundamental shift to project based employment, tricky at first, but long term will lead to a renaissance in how we work and enable all of us to achieve greater work-life balance. COVID-19 is an accelerant to a trend that has been long overdue. We have seen a 10,000% increase in membership on our platform in the last month alone.”
Taso du Val, CEO of Toptal: “The current pandemic has forced almost all of our clients to very quickly transition to a fully distributed workforce. In many cases, this has created significant disruption in how teams operate and conduct their business. For a company like Toptal, which has always been a fully distributed team, we’re able to offer guidance as to how to do this in a way that helps our clients both manage immediate challenges and sets them up for success in the mid to long term. The lasting impact to our business is acutely correlated to the ability of our clients to manage through this transition.”
Max Friberg, Cofounder of Inex One in Sweden: “I see growth in the medium and longer term. Our platform helps investment teams to collaborate online. I think the Covid crisis sparks an overall shift towards efficient online platforms. I also think this behavioural change will stick, even after the crisis ebbs.”
Leslie Garçon, Cofounder of Weem in France: “Most WEEM projects were done on clients’ premises and we and clients encouraged it. With COVID-19, projects have shifted to remote. Meetings are replaced by conference calls and clients realized that consultants’ commitment was unimpacted. Long term, it might confirm the efficiency of fully remote projects.”
Alok Alstrom, CEO of AppJobs in Sweden: “For clients in the remote work category, we see a massive increase starting in mid-February and accelerating as the crisis deepens. For the long term, the high number of “home quarantined” will accelerate the adoption and development of “working from home” by companies worldwide. This will prove challenging at first, but with time we will see an increased interest in all remote working platforms.