An improved website, a new app, a pivot in company strategy. These are all time-consuming tasks that need to be handled by an expert — and in a timely fashion. But what if the expert you need isn’t on your payroll?
That’s why companies are tapping into a new work model built on highly specialized freelancers with directly relevant skills: the talent-as-a-service model. Companies that embrace TaaS enjoy on-demand, flexible access to the right talent at just the right time and for the right price.
The rise of the Talent as a Service (TaaS) model
The TaaS model beautifully connects two booming trends in the quickly evolving concept of work. Companies want to fill important gaps in their teams while highly skilled workers desire a more flexible lifestyle. At HourlyNerd, we just released a comprehensive infographic that shows that a whopping 88 percent of current employees want flexible work schedules.
And that’s starting to happen. A recent report released by Intuit states that roughly one-third of Americans are currently working as freelancers. That percentage is anticipated to rise to 40 percent of U.S. workers by 2020.
What a TaaS company looks like
The TaaS model may sound good in theory, but is it really possible to blend a lean FTE workforce with a regular rotation of freelancers based on a company’s current needs? Adopting a TaaS model does require flexibility on the part of management and employees, but here is an example of what it could look like:
- Expertise: A new technology-meets-fashion company needs to make a significant pivot and rebuild its business plan. The owners don’t have time to do this major overhaul, and none of their FTEs have put together a business plan before. The company brings in a freelance expert with a background in technology and fashion — and who has written dozens of business plans.
- Cost savings: The company needs to launch a new app, but its single full-time engineer is overwhelmed with other projects. The company can’t afford to bring on a new employee at this time. Instead, it hires a freelance software architect to build the app.
- Increased efficiency: The company is redesigning its website and brochure as a result of the pivot. No one in the company has graphic design skills. One intern offers to try, but it will take her at least 10 hours to teach herself how to use Photoshop, and she still won’t produce the quality of an expert.The company doesn’t have enough work to justify hiring a full-time graphic designer, so it goes back to the same freelancer who designed the graphics for its original website and brochure. She already knows the company’s design style and has a relationship with the owners. Jumping back in and producing the needed graphics is simple for her. Throughout the next six months, the company assigns her two more graphic design projects.
Incorporating Talent as a Service (TaaS)
Upending a long-standing business model is never easy. The key to switching from an FTE model to a TaaS model is to bring both leadership and HR on board. A manager can gain support by making the case that TaaS can produce better results, increase cost savings and improve innovation.
The TaaS model works best within companies that are focused on improving efficiency and controlled by leaders willing to embrace change. The model is especially suited for marketing, operations and finance, so consider starting in one of these departments to test the waters.
Change takes time, so managers who are ready to give TaaS a try should start with a small pilot project to gain experience hiring and managing a freelancer. Always carve out distinct chunks of work and establish clear deliverables. I also encourage managers to choose talent from a reputable source with a strong vetting process.
The time for change is always now. What can freelancers be doing for your business?
By Rob Biederman, co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd.