Talent on a Cloud: The Rise of Freelance Workers and an Open Talent Economy

December 13, 2013

The Rise of an “Open Talent Economy”

The prevalence of cloud computing technology, combined with the fallout from the economic crisis, has transformed how hiring takes place for all types of companies.

In the past, hiring simply involved seeking out the person that best fit a set of job requirements. Of course, there can also be special cases where there was either too much demand for a particular need and a limited supply of qualified candidates. Given the abundance of talent in the marketplace, many companies are finding new ways to manage talent requirements for specific roles.

Freelance Workers and the Open Talent Economy

Emerging Hiring Trends: More Freelance Workers

One trend being observed today is the rise in the use of freelancers. Freelancers can serve a wide array of needs for any business: on-call writers, designers, translators, developers, accountants, analysts, and much more. Companies are finding this option more appealing due to the savings associated with a pay-per-service model. Additionally, the agility offered by the model enables companies to easily grow or shrink their capacity as demand levels change.

Some of the main providers that facilitate this service include: Creative Circle, Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and Guru. Each has been gaining significant ground in the number of projects posted by clients, the number of freelancers signing up, and the amount of transactions being facilitated through their sites.

Changing Work Environments

This emerging “open talent economy” has the potential to disrupt how work requirements will be addressed in the years ahead. In cases where work can be portioned on a short term or per request basis, companies can easily utilize this option. In other cases where work continuity is needed, the traditional hiring model can be applied. Some research illustrates that “by 2020, 40 percent of labor in the U.S. will be comprised of contingent/independent workers.

However, every new technology comes with its fair share of potential risks. In my opinion, companies at this stage may not have access to the best workers available in the market through these services. Most top talent is currently employed with leading companies that offer competitive compensation packages and benefits. Additionally, projects that require higher levels of discretion would likely not be completed by freelancers, as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

Gaining Traction

Despite some of the current shortfalls of using cloud based technology, utilizing these services to match work requirements with global talent seems to be an approach that is here to stay. As more businesses strive to reduce costs and increase productivity levels, these new models may gain further momentum in the years ahead.

Have you or your company begun to utilize any of the cloud-based freelancing platforms outlined in this blog entry?

Head of People Operations

Salima Ladha is the Head of People Operations at <a href="http://www.signpost.com">Signpost</a>, a cloud-based marketing software that gives local businesses the power to effortlessly build and manage customer relationships. She previously recruited top talent to to OpenView and our Portfolio Companies.