Looking to freelance for a company that treats free agents well?
Then you’ll want to to check out the highest-ranking firms in the new 2018 Best Companies to Freelance For Awards list published by the freelance payment and management platform Kalo. The top 10 are 1. Airbnb, 2. Amazon, 3. Walmart, 4. Google, 5. Ideo, 6. Vice, 7. Apple, 8. Apartment Therapy, 9. Group Nine Media and 10. McDonald’s. Explore the rest of the list here.
Kalo arrived at the list by directly surveying more than 1,200 freelancers about which companies they would recommend as a good place to freelance and analyzing interactions between more than 70,000 freelancers and 2,000 companies. Kalo rated the companies based on the clarity of their communication with free agents, smart utilization of freelancers’ skills, time to payment and inclusion of freelancers as valued members of the team.
Airbnb emerged in first place. Kalo illustrated why in a quote from Cristian Mormoloc, a professional photographer who does projects for Airbnb.
“Airbnb is the best company I’ve ever freelanced for,” he said. “They make me feel valued by giving constant feedback and appreciation, and I’m truly honored when they solicit my skills for other parts of the business in addition to the real estate photography I was hired for. Payments have always been prompt and without complications, and at no point have I ever needed to bring this topic up for discussion, which is rarer than you might think.”
Peter Johnston, founder and CEO of Kalo, aims to encourage HR professionals to prioritize treatment of freelancers through Kalo’s Best Companies to Freelance For awards.
Best workplaces lists are a staple at many publications but they mostly focus on how employers treat full-time, permanent staff. This is the first thorough list I’ve seen that focuses on how well big employers are treating their freelance teams and relies heavily on input from the freelancers themselves.
This approach seems long overdue in a world where 40.4% of the U.S. workforce is made up of contingent workers—freelancers, temps, part-timers and others who don’t have what we consider “secure” jobs.
The results were interesting because a few of the companies on the list have been in the headlines for issues related to their workplace culture. Freelancers, or at least those who completed the survey, may be having different individual experiences than workers who have shared their experiences in that coverage, perhaps because freelancers often work remotely and are compensated in different ways from staffers.
And freelancers typically have their own set of pain points. A surprising number of companies that treat their full-time permanent employees very well often behave as if their freelancers are air plants, mysteriously able to survive by absorbing whatever they need to sustain themselves from the environment. Many otherwise exemplary firms have given little or no thought to putting good systems in place to communicate effectively with freelancers, put their skills to the best use, make them feel like part of the team or get them paid on time.
A surprising number of companies treat freelancers like Tillandsia plants, somehow able to survive by absorbing what they need from the environment–as if they are unlike other workers who need things like timely pay.
Those gaps affect not only the freelancers but the companies’ ability to serve their customers, with more firms relying on these workers for important projects. If you hire a freelancer to design a website in time for a mission-critical product launch but your company is making him wait 60 days for payment on every job, due to bureaucracy and tough payment terms, he’s going to have to squeeze in a lot of other work on top of your current project to maintain his cash flow and pay his bills.
That means you’ve prevented him from giving your high-priority project his highest level of attention and put him in a situation where gnawing financial stress is preventing him from doing his best work. No matter how much you pay in the end, he may miss your deadline because he’s piled up with other work that pays more quickly.
The flip side of this is that companies that treat freelancers really well will have an edge in securing talent for key projects. Say you’re working with a high-level freelance consultant who is always in demand. If you treat her with respect and pay her quickly, you’ll naturally float to the top of her priority list when she has little availability left in her schedule.
A list like Kalo’s is a first step toward recognizing the companies that understand how important their freelance talent pool is to their success and are treating the free agents who help them with the respect every worker deserves.
As Peter Johnston, CEO and founder of Kalo put it in a blog, “[T]he survey can provide a starting point for the expected minimum standards for a company, and create a roadmap for how companies can treat freelancers as first-class citizens.”
Any company that needs a competitive edge should be paying attention.