Innovating With and For A Freelance Economy


“Think of your workforce as a water wheel powered by falling water…your organization is the wheel powered by innovators who create energy and generate momentum with their ideas.”

A new NPR/Marist poll shows that 34 percent of part-time workers are looking for full-time work and currently, 1 in 5 workers is a contract worker. This is not good or bad news, it is just a fact. The part that is good news is that as more people choose to do freelance work, they are preparing themselves by learning new skills and redefining their financial stability.

In a world where the future is contract workers hired as they are needed, and organization tenure is seen in days and not decades, innovation needs to be responsibly guided.

“…the speed with which business evolves these days forces everyone — from businesses themselves to suppliers to the competition — to respond quickly.” Details from NPR’s Rise of the Contract Worker 

Education, public services, and social structures will feel the effects of this freelance society and will change as a result making way to the Freelance Economy. This shift opens up opportunities for new innovations that will enhance and support these cultural elements. The economic changes will also make way for innovations.

Questions arise: What can your organization do to take advantage of this shift in workforce management? Where does the human element reside in this rapidly changing, quantum computing era? How do mortgage lenders treat freelancers and independent business owners where employment verification, consistency in wages once were the qualifiers for home and car loans?

Innovation requires taking risks and sometimes creating disruption. Our team at Plazabridge Group (PBG)  assists with collecting data to bring risk mitigation to the process of needs assessment. Bringing innovations to market and delivering sustainable profits is a complicated, highly adaptive process. Your organization needs to be nimble

In my recent Forbes article, I outline five strategies for managing our world’s ever-changing shifts. The first is to let go of anxiety. One way to do this is by immersing yourself in peer groups, networking groups, and anywhere the conversations are being had around these new trends.

Fear is an intense motivator. If you fear the new decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) where blockchain will replace you as CEO, you basically have two choices: you can read more about blockchain to get out in front of this trend or focus on continuing your own education.

As a CEO, your role is to think about how to help your team form around these new ideas and technologies, not be replaced 100 percent by them. Keep in mind that freelancers contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy (a 30% increase since 2016). So there is an advantage to investing in these individuals.

Think of your workforce as a water wheel powered by falling water…your organization is the wheel powered by innovators who create energy and generate momentum with their ideas.

Using a generator, the water wheel turns kinetic energy into electricity that your home can use, just as the individuals (generators) who work with you create ideas that power your organization. Befittingly, another word for “generator” is “dynamo.” Who doesn’t want to hire a dynamo?!

The “overshot” style wheel pulls the water all the way down the length of the wheel and is able to make the most of every drop. Structure your organization the same way, by making the most of each individual’s time and tasks. You can harness a specific skill of a generator if he/she is strong in one area. The more efficient your team, the more energy you can generate.

Consider the following:

  • Engage the freelancer as you would your internal team once you find freelancers that fit your culture and you know they add value. They have a lot to offer and it’s outside of thinking so you will get unique perspectives.
  • Think and act for the long term. Today and tomorrow are already in motion and the quarter is gone before it begins. Stop, drop and roll into new ways of acting, thinking and planning.
  • Innovate for the freelance world not just with it the sheer numbers of freelancers will need supports, services, collaborative partners, new ways to buy homes and get loans …
  • Freelancers are multigenerational leverage the diversity of think.  With the numbers of retirees more and more experience will be available for short projects and freelance work.  This also means there will be major holes to fill health-care and company talent pools. Plan now.  Retirement by the numbers:
  • Ask for help! There are lots of opportunities to explore. The right solutions for your company may not be the best solutions for other companies.

More to explore