Should we be happy or worried about the rise of freelancing?

If being a freelancer is a trend, the status is not new! It was built in the Middle Ages, when soldiers offered their services to the king for payment. Today, freelancers are putting their skills at the service of the world of work, and their numbers are exploding. Do they represent a boon for companies, a threat to workers? Let’s try to clarify it.

Freelancing, the trend that gains momentum over time

Let’s ride in time, and take ourselves from the Middle Ages, to the end of the 19the century in the United States. We discovered there that as city centers become job pools, the middle classes choose to live outside them. However, public transport, which was not yet sufficiently developed at the time, complicated the model of the “suburban worker” that would find its raison d’être later. However, the invention of the telephone would inspire Jack Nilles and Franck Schiff to a new work organization that they would call “telecommunications”. It will only consist of working remotely for oneself, using the invention of Graham Bell, and will give rise to what will be called “freelancing”. However, this phenomenon will remain more than marginal, and we need to make a new temporal and technological leap to see an increase in its use. It’s actually at the end of the xxe century, with the advent of the Internet, that freelancing will grow. Since then, it has continued to grow, until it really exploded, thanks to the recent health crisis… Today it represents approx. 57 million of workers in the United States, 22 million in Europe, and almost 4.5 million in France. According to Forbes, it has increased by 145% worldwide in the last decade, creating emulators not only in tech professions, but also in the most diverse functions: photography, training, marketing, communication. , translation, writing, sales , HR… and even management, with an increase in the power of interim management.

Freelancers, a boon for companies

If workers value freelancing more, undeniably, so do employers! 57% of French companies used it in 2021, and more than 4 in 10 say they have increased their number, according to the Izyfreelance* networking platform. The main reason cited is the lack of talent, but companies, of course, appreciate the adaptability, adaptability and high level of expertise of these freelancers. Using a freelancer also means playing geographical criteria… He can be accepted and integrated into the company, but also contribute to a territorial network without the company having to worry about its logistics or land. . The company can also give itself the possibility to find a resource ad hoc on the other side of the world, while freeing itself from the HR constraints associated with the international mobility of employees.

Freelancing, a threat to the workforce?

Unless one day, freelancing attracts so many people who no longer want to be employees, it does not constitute – in the short and medium term – a threat to traditional employment contracts (temporary, CDD and CDI). Moreover, some workers, such as delivery men, drivers, and other underpaid “online microworkers”, simply accept self-employed status by default, and prefer to receive a salary. Moreover, even in the case where freelancing is a deliberate choice, it is clearly not suitable for everyone.

Being self-employed requires autonomy, this is obvious, but also many qualities and skills. The freelancer must be an expert in his field, but that is not enough, he also has to wear many costumes: commercial, accountant, communicator, etc. And, like any business leader, he must be strict, aggressive, creative… In other words, there are people who broke their teeth and went back to work, to find a manager, colleagues, and regular income!

On the business side, the craze for freelancers also comes up against some limitations. The first is financial, because, contrary to what one might think, entrusting a mission to a freelancer is not always cheaper than assuming a salary and all the charges that surround it. Some experts (especially in IT or interim management) charge daily rates that can be very high (600 euros, or even up to 1,000 euros in some cases), to which commissions are often added or fees paid to HR firms responsible for finding them. rare pearl. Even considering the advantage of “stop and go” (the ability to start and stop a commercial relationship according to the needs of the company), paying a freelancer can prove to be more expensive than paying a salary to a employee. . Finally, the intrinsic life of today’s company is unthinkable without a melting pot of sustainable resources, generated by its employees. Beyond its economic model, it is on this base that the company relies to define its raison d’être, its values, its team cohesion and sense of belonging. Undeniably, to build a company, it needs employees who are committed and involved for a long time, which would be impossible if they were all freelancers! The latter, if they are important, therefore often remain adjustment variables, thanks to which the company works, advances, but does not build.

*The survey was conducted from July 1 to September 10, 2021 with more than 500 HRD, CEO and C-level (management positions) in France

Valerie Macquet

Copywriter, writing consultant, author, biographer, adult educator

After being manager of a communication agency, deputy director of a weekly newspaper, then commercial manager of a team of key account salespeople, I’ve had enough of juggling…

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