The freelance workforce is growing three times faster than the total workforce as full-time employees leave jobs in search of more control over what they do and who they work for.
Job expectations are evolving and technology makes freelance work easier to find, said Mary Meeker, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Meeker presented her annual Internet Trends Report at Recode’s Code Conference 2018. You can read the full transcript here.
Flexibility is the No. 1 non-monetary benefit workers want, Meeker said. Her 2018 report focuses on the importance of freelancing as a tectonic shift in how people work.
Talent platforms such as Upwork (with 16 million freelancers) and Toptal have made it easier for businesses to find freelancers.
Toptal is a network of freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts. The company has a rigorous screening process and says it accepts fewer than 3 percent of the 100,000-plus people who apply to join the Toptal network each year.
Toptal claims to have precision in connecting companies with freelancers.
“In almost all cases we’ll introduce you to candidates within 24 hours, and 90 percent of our clients hire the first candidate we introduce,” according to Toptal‘s FAQ page.
A global study by Toptal underscored the start of a freelance revolution. Ninety-one percent of organizations surveyed said they had employed freelancers, and 79 percent said they planned to increase freelance participation, according to the Toptal: State of the Workforce, 2017.
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Companies with less than 1,000 employees lead the charge toward an external talent workforce, with one-third of their workforces made up of project or temporary employees, according to Raj Jeyakumar, vice president of business talent at Toptal.
Many people think that cost is the No. 1 driver when a company decides to use external talent.
“Survey respondents ranked that as the fourth most important reason,” Jeyakumar wrote. “Flexibility in building teams, greater access to expertise, and faster speed to hire were valued more strongly as benefits of utilizing a blended workforce.”
Toptal was co-founded by Taso Du Val, who worked as lead engineer at several startups that were later acquired for megamillions (Hi-Media bought Fotolog for $100 million, and Google bought Slide for $228 million, according to Forbes.)
Toptal investors include Andreessen Horowitz and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. The company’s clients include Airbnb, Rand McNally, JPMorgan Chase, IDEO, and Pfizer.
The company has a virtual workforce and no offices.
“Everything we do is contract for hire,” Du Val said in a Forbes interview. “For some organizations, it is important the talent be employed directly by the company. We facilitate that.”