Freelancers, contractors, temps and on-call workers represent a large portion of the U.S. workforce. McKinsey Global Institute estimates there are between 54 million and 68 million independent workers, and their numbers are growing.[1] Nearly half of working millennials freelance, and by 2027 experts believe the majority of the U.S. workforce will comprise independent workers.[2]

While some workers freelance on the side, nearly half choose contingent work as their career for flexible hours and scheduling. Most people may think of Uber drivers as the quintessential example, but more than half of all independent workers are in health care, education, construction, and professional and business services.[3]

Employers like hiring independent workers for greater flexibility, speed, agility and lower overall hiring costs. Freelancers enable businesses to gain specialized skills quickly and on an as-needed basis without the commitment and costs of adding a full-time employee.

Corporate information technology (IT) departments can be challenged to provide systems access and services to independent workers. Freelancers often work from home and are hired by various departments, and onboarding orientation can be scarce or nonexistent. Hiring managers can ease the freelancer’s transition and assuage IT department concerns by conducting some preliminary planning for the work engagement, including these steps:[4]

  • Make a list of company systems, software and programs that the freelancer may need to access, such as a virtual private network (VPN), file-sharing system or video conferencing capabilities.
  • Notify the IT department early of the freelancer’s planned work engagement to begin the process of granting access to company systems and programs.
  • Let the IT department know if the freelancer needs company equipment such as a laptop, cell phone or tablet.
  • Check with Human Resources to see if the freelancer needs to be given a temporary company identification number. Provide the information to the IT department as part of the access granting process.

[1] “Independent Work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy,” by James Manyika, Susan Lund, Jacques Bughin, Kelsey Robinson, Jan Mischke and Deepa Mahajan, McKinsey Global Institute, October 2016. Executive summary and full report available for download at: https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/independent-work-choice-necessity-and-the-gig-economy

[2] “Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing, annual “Freelancing in America” study finds,” press release from Upwork, Oct. 17, 2017. Available at: https://www.upwork.com/press/2017/10/17/freelancing-in-america-2017/

[3] “The Growth of the Gig Economy: A Look at American Freelancers,” by Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily, Nov. 10, 2017. Available at: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10359-gig-economy-trends.html

[4] “6 Freelancer Onboarding Tips Every Company Should Know,” by Brenda Do, Upwork blog, undated. Available at: https://www.upwork.com/hiring/for-clients/6-freelancer-onboarding-tips-every-company-should-know/

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