Exploring the State of the Independent Worker: A Key Services Procurement Component

MBO Partners recently released its annual “State of Independence” report covering independent workers. Independent contractors, whether they work part-time or full-time in this manner, are an increasingly overall component of services procurement programs that are looking to tap specialized skills or take advantage of alternative labor and project-based delivery models (although one that is often not given enough attention relative to the staffing and SOW ecosystem).

MBO’s report is comprehensive. It was based on more than 11,000 survey interviews carried out over the past 4 years (3,000+ for the 2014 study). MBO defines this class of workers as “people who report in an average week working in non-traditional, non-permanent full or part-time employment and include workers who identify themselves
as consultants, freelancers, contractors, solopreneur and on-call workers, among others.”

There are numerous conclusions and recommendations (for procurement) that we can draw from the analysis. And in the coming weeks, as we explore some of the more important findings from the analysis in detail, we will (see also our interview series with MBO’s Gene Zaino here and here). Yet one key point jumps out from the analysis that we’ll cover today.

And this is the fact freelancers are (largely) independent workers by choice, not out of necessity. They “choose and plan
to continue this path because they want: 1) control over the kind of work they do, 2) the flexibility to determine when and where they work, and 3) the autonomy to work in the way they believe best. These tenets hold true for both side-giggers (part-timers) and full-time independents, although those who work on a less-than-half time basis are also strongly motivated by supplementing their income.”

There is no doubt that services procurement teams and MSPs that are not tapping independent workers will put themselves at a cost and talent disadvantage in the market. But where should procurement begin – and how should it build the business case to expand their contingent programs to also factor into account independent, non-firm affiliated labor? We’ll tackle this and much more as our analysis continues.

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