Everybody is freelance? Saves the economy?

When I started my career in corporate life back in 1990 there seemed to be quite an obvious path to take. You got a job, with an employer, where there was a implied long term agreement. Not always suggesting a job for life, but it in general that seemed to be what people did.
During the following few years I watched as we increasingly hired in contractors, but generally on a relatively long term. Tech companies tended to need to do that with programmers to build a particularly large piece of software with a known end date. Those that “went contracting” seemed to have a very lucrative time, but traded off the apparent security of a permanent staff job. Very often the staff job was considered a role, not a mini contract.
I am not sure when it happened, but very soon it seemed that everyone became a freelancer insider the company structure, vying for work competing to be on the right customer contract. CV’s and bio’s and personal recommendations flying around all over the place.
In a corporate environment this labour market economy always seemed slightly at odds with what the purpose of belonging to a such an entity. Competing for work with colleagues but only in the bounds of the contracts that the company is trying to win or work seems counter productive.
Now that I am effectively freelance, though employed by my own company Feeding Edge I am getting to see and feel the proper potential of the individual vying for work, and the even more incredible power of self organising groups of people in similar positions. These affiliations can be transient, but they can also be incredible bonding experiences with mutual trust and support.
I have been observing and appreciating this from both my more regular tech company relationships and from being thrown into the media and TV industry.
Despite it all still eating blue m&ms
People are not all M&M’s from the same packet, but in different colour clothes. There i smuch more variety in the example of a TV production.
When you arrive on set or at a VT shoot you are working under the banner of a show for a production company, but pretty much everyone involved is really a freelancer that has agreed to a short period of time of working together for a common goal. There are definite roles across the process, there is an agreed way of working and there is a spirit of teamwork yet it is all achieved through a combination of mutual trust and a willingess to lead or be led depending on the situation.
As with the tech projects you end up with a trusted body of people, your generally first port of call when you start a venture. People you know, who have proven themselves to you and vice versa. I wrote a little about that here with the Linkedin social graph
That clearly happens in a corporate structure to some degree, people gather their forces for a project, but could it be that the corporate internal freelancing is actually stifling trust and creativity, leading some people to slip into jobsworth, or protectionist modes?
Yesterday I was presenting about Kinect OpenSource hacking and as a follow on to some of the crowdsourcing of wikipedia. Interested parties with a loos affiliation, but a common goal self organizing and producing things for others seems like something recent. In communication and software terms open source is new, but in term of human activity it is not. It is only the more regimented structures of large businesses that have created the structures that open source seems an counter too.
In many ways the cultural changes of communication and sharing are being re-initiated with social media, which in turn leads to open source thinking and naturally then leads to more nimble, inventive, innovative and recovery generating organisations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

pLR4T n

Please type the text above:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.