Freelancers need agents like companies need head hunters

A new milestone in the shift into the freelancer economy: the rise of greelancer agents. These are companies that represent top freelancers in hot discipline — like iOS developers in Silicon Valley. As reported in Businessweek, 10X Management, a company founded by some music agents is now representing freelance programmers. The company vets the programmers, looks over code samples, and then handles the business side of things. They negotiate with prospective clients, do the billing and collections, and market freelancers to companies that match the freelancers skills and desires. And they are working for the freelancer, and charge the industry standard 10-15% of the deal they strike for their client.

It all makes sense. The skill set of being a programmer doesn’t naturally equip a person to be a good negotiator, or have the right connections to find work.

And carried to its logical conclusion, it’s not just the best and brightest freelance programmers who could benefit from this service, it’s all freelancers. The friction involved in negotiation and networking is enormous, and the emergence of more of these companies will be an enormous benefit to everyone.

Organizations like the Freelancers Union have focused on the insurance and contract law side of things, but I can see the need for businesses (or a coop) that represents freelancers in this way.

And what about full-time employees? What if they used agents to negotiate during their annual review? A growing number of people have suggested separating the review process from salary negotiations. That would facilitate bringing an agent to work to get the best deal based on their greater knowledge of market conditions, and what a client’s skills should be worth.

Better at a Distance: Negotiation and Brainstorming?

A lot has been written about how to overcome the communication challenges faced by virtual teams who work together but are physically distant. What has been covered less often is the topic of the communication advantages of being distant. Experts tell us there are a few.

When You Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

One of the things I love about being a web worker is the variety of projects I get to work on. Things never get boring around here because of that. Every now and then, an opportunity arises that’s a little outside my usual scope, and sometimes I’ll take it on just to push my own envelope on some level.

I’m currently working on a project that is pushing me to my limits, physically — that’s not something that usually happens when I work! There are three components: a lot of interesting and useful Internet research, some less interesting but easy recording of data in a spreadsheet and, the hard part, running all over the city of Paris. It initially sounded like fun, but in reality what I’m doing is quite grueling because, like most Parisians, I get around on foot and using public transport. (Doesn’t sound so bad? I climbed 300 steps yesterday alone!)

In the last 13 days (yes, I’m counting the days), I’ve been reminded of some strategies that have worked for me in situations like this in the past, and decided to share them because they can be useful in any situation where you’re in over your head. Read More about When You Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Why Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Telework

Teleworking has been gaining traction for years and now more than 2.44 million people spend at least part of their work week at home. But recently some major employers have been pulling telecommuters back into the office. The goal of any would-be teleworker is to show your boss how working from home will benefit him and the company. If you’re having trouble getting your point across, here are some possible reasons he wants you in the office.

Collaborate and Subvert Your IS Department with Google Apps Team Edition

Web Workers often face a dilemma when trying to collaborate with co-workers, that is having access to the electronic tools to access and collaborate with team members. Sometimes we’re given great collaboration tools like Microsoft SharePoint or similar enterprise collaboration tools. However these present hurdles, namely working with a corporate IS department who may not be as responsive as we web workers would like them to be.

Google Apps

This is why Google launched Google Apps Team Edition. Google Apps for Your Domain has been around for quite some time, but this set of tools requires someone from your IS department to administer it. Groups inside companies can easily subvert IS involvement by just entering your corporate email address and clicking on a link inside the resulting sign-up email.

Read More about Collaborate and Subvert Your IS Department with Google Apps Team Edition