The Future of Work is Flexible | Issah Abdul-Moomin, Co Founder of Passionfruit

My co-founder Raffi and I started Passionfruit in recognition of the fact that work isn’t working very well for people and businesses. This problem is felt acutely by the new generation of skilled knowledge workers. With many of them entering the workforce over the last few years, they have felt a misalignment between the needs of workers and organisations, which has worsened since the pandemic. And, while lockdown may be over, these new attitudes towards work/life balance are here to stay. And, combined with the fact that attracting, engaging and retaining the right talent remains as difficult as it has ever been, the companies that will succeed are those able to meet the demands of top talent.

So, how should your company respond? At Passionfruit, we believe that a more flexible approach to talent is the answer. Increasingly, the best digital operators are opting to work on a freelance basis. In marketing in particular, the best people are increasingly choosing to work independently due to benefits such as greater personal autonomy, better pay and more fulfilling work. This means that companies are hamstringing themselves by only participating in the full-time talent market. By their own admission, the companies using Passionfruit simply wouldn’t be able to hire the same calibre of talent we offer them were they to use a standard recruitment process and on a full-time basis.

Even if you can find someone to hire on a full-time basis — you shouldn’t necessarily do it. Full-time employees can be a sub-optimal solution. At Passionfruit, we find that discrete, project-based engagements work well, particularly when looking for talent in disciplines with short supply and high demand. Otherwise, companies may face job boards with endless vacancies and frustrated teams unable to execute on plans. Contrast that with being able to find and onboard a freelance expert who has seen and successfully tackled the challenge that you are facing, within days.

Once they’ve done their job (whether that’s in 3 weeks or 3 months), the project ends and you can collaborate with a new specialist who has exactly the right skills for your next challenge. By doing this, you are equipped with precisely the right talent at the right time, rather than a long-term cost commitment and outdated job descriptions. It means that you can work with technical experts with a track record of driving results at companies like yours more flexibly and cost-effectively than ever before.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many jobs for which a full-time hire makes sense — we’re not advocating for a fully-freelance workforce. We just believe that there is a lot of value to be unlocked on both sides by embracing a more flexible approach. At Passionfruit, for each role we hire full-time, we conduct a rigorous review of the pros and cons to ensure it’s an intentional decision. This approach has forced us to develop a hiring framework which has served us well so far and we believe that all businesses should do the same.

Research from BCG shows that less than one-third of companies report that they can rapidly adjust to changing demands across teams. This is a symptom of the FTE-only view of the workforce, which is fast becoming a thing of the past. Whether you work for a pre-seed startup using a handful of freelancers or Unilever who estimates that the ‘outer-core’ of its workforce totals around 3 million (including individuals, third parties and agencies), businesses can benefit from taking a more holistic approach to how they attract and engage all of the people that work for them. While a more flexible approach to talent dramatically increases the quality and quantity of businesses’ addressable supply, there is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done to make flexible work a genuine and attractive alternative to the traditional full-time structure. This is more than just an acquisition challenge, this is about building a better operating system upon which companies and workers interact. That’s why at Passionfruit, we’re not just building a talent marketplace, but the digital home for tomorrow’s white collar workforce.

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