The rise of the freelancer


Though the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic remain to be seen, one thing is certain: the pandemic has had a profound impact on the way we work. One such manifestation is the rise of contract and freelance workers. A recent survey from Upwork found that 20% of the American workforce is considering freelancing over returning to the office, which represents a 17% increase in the freelance workforce. These new freelancers would join the ranks of the 57 million people that freelanced in all of 2019. Managing contract or freelancers, particularly when they are remote, comes with its own unique challenges. Because contract workers can choose to walk away from projects quite easily, managers must ensure they obtain buy-in from all employees while also respecting the nuances of freelance work. CSR has been ahead of the curve and relied on contract/freelance employees for years before the pandemic fueled the rise of the freelancer. Along the way, we've learned some important lessons that have helped us successfully build a dynamic team that works to bring our mission, vision, and values to life.


  1. Ensure employees are mission fits One of the pieces of advice we often share with clients is to fire fast and hire slow. It's advice we have taken to heart after witnessing firsthand the detrimental effects of bringing on an employee who is not aligned with our mission, vision, and values. Though labor shortages in key sectors have made finding and hiring outstanding contract workers challenging, it's crucial to not rush the hiring process and only hiring freelancers who are good fits for the team. Unsure how to do this? Talk to us about our recruitment services.

  2. Establish clear expectations Even if a freelancer is a family member, friend, or former colleague, it is critical to craft a vendor agreement that clearly spells out expectations. It may seem like an unnecessary formality, but this agreement not only protects you and your business but gives the prospective team member a detailed look at the role they are expected to carry out and the compensation and benefits they can expect. It is an easy way to avoid miscommunications or conflict for both parties. One of our favorite pieces of advice to offer our clients is ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

  3. Provide opportunities for professional development In the many years that CSR has hired contract and freelance workers, we have found that providing a why associated with their ongoing involvement with the team is key to maintaining employees engaged. There has to be a reason for individuals to want to engage and stay integrated beyond compensation. We've found a great way to achieve this is by establishing a monthly huddle, in which the team comes together not only to discuss CSR business, but also to connect with each other, provide collegial advice, and set common goals. Setting aside time to learn team members' goals is another great way to make contract workers' involvement with the business rewarding.

In order to thrive in an economy relying more and more on contract workers, business leaders must adapt their management styles to attract and support the best talent. By implementing the lessons CSR has learned over the years, businesses can take on the new gig economy with confidence. If you're struggling to adapt to the new realities of the workforce, don’t. Reach out – we’d love to talk to you about your challenges and either propose some solutions (and subsequent results!) or refer you to a resource that can get it done for you.