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The new high-end freelancer

Source | Livemint : By Kavitha Rao

Freelancer. In the Indian workplace, this word usually means “second best”. When Indian employers, or even employees, think of freelancers, they often think of casual temp or gig workers. Young hipsters in creative fields. Mothers who want to work from home. People who don’t earn very much. People, dare we say it, who couldn’t cut it in the “real” workplace.

But things are changing in the world of work. Employers are slowly recognizing that talent and drive can be found outside the 9-5 format. Meanwhile, a new, “high-end” freelancer is rising: ambitious, experienced, highly educated and able to command top rates.

The term freelancer is being stretched to cover consultants, project managers, researchers and analysts—anyone who works flexible hours. A 2015 study by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers showed that freelancers made up 34% of the workforce in the US. And, according to workplace experts, this is expected to cross 50% in the next decade.

In India, the trend is still tiny, but it’s predicted to grow. Chandrika Pasricha is one of the people driving the movement towards a better breed of freelancer. A former consultant for management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., she now heads Flexing It (www.flexingit.com), a job portal that specializes in matching high-end freelancers with equally top-drawer employers. More than 17,000 professionals are registered with Flexing It, and among the 1,300 companies using its services are Hindustan Unilever Ltd, the Tata group, Dr Reddy’s, Deloitte and Reliance Industries Ltd, as well as the non-profit Oxfam.

Changing definitions

“The typical definition of a freelancer used to be a young person in a creative or tech field,” says Pasricha. “But now we find that the top three categories for hiring freelancers are marketing, strategy and human resources (HR). Most of the freelancers on our site have already spent 10-15 years in mainstream roles.”

Unlike the old freelancer, this new freelancer does not come cheap. According to FeeBee, a benchmarking tool used by Flexing It, the average daily rate charged by freelancers with about 10 years’ experience is about Rs.70,000 for those in senior management, Rs.40,000 for marketing professionals,Rs.30,000 for IT workers and Rs.15,000 for HR specialists.

 

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