BROOKLYN, N.Y. – February 7, 2014 – In the first of a series of articles published by the Wall Street Journal, SJC’s Brooklyn Campus Executive Dean and professor of history and sociology Dr. Richard Greenwald, discusses how freelancers and consultants have started to join together in “hives” in order to provide clients with a broader range of services than they would have been able to furnish individually. To view the article, click here.
In his research, Greenwald identifies the hive economy as an innovative approach that fulfills client needs, provides stable work to the hive and individual freelancers with flexibility. As businesses look to pare down their own workforces while continuing to expand, freelance consultants—the new workers of the creative economy—are being relied on to fill in the gaps. Rather than manage an army of independent workers, the hive model provides companies with exactly what they desire—a unified project team, but with none of the associated costs of a full-time staff.
Likewise, the freelancers benefit too; they are all vested in the project, yet are free to leave at any time and do not have to invest any capital. Yet, for people used to autonomy, the problem lies in that they must present a united front to clients at all times.
Greenwald goes on to list the traits that all successful hives share. Hives that identify services that they can provide to their clients are better positioned to stake out future work. Keeping tabs on the operations of the client is also key—by listening to their contacts, they can find networking opportunities, learn how they operate, as well as identify particular areas in which the client is downsizing and would be receptive to outsourcing the work to freelancers.
Another important aspect of the hive is the quality of one’s network and the ability to assign work, so there is seamless interaction between the client and the hive. Greenwald discusses the challenges of dividing work and building a network. Both the quality of workers and their ability to assign tasks and payment greatly impact the resulting value of the work and the interaction of the team. The article concludes with an example of one worker’s departure from the hive. This worker was not able to commit fully to the hive due to a large volume of side work and was asked to leave, a reminder of how precarious freelance work can be, and how individual commitment and work are constantly in flux in the new freelance economy.
About St. Joseph's College
St. Joseph's College has been dedicated to providing a diverse population of students in the New York metropolitan area with an affordable education rooted in the liberal arts tradition since 1916. Independent and coeducational, the College provides a strong academic and value-oriented education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, aiming to prepare each student for a life characterized by integrity, intellectual and spiritual values, social responsibility, and service. With campuses located in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn and in Patchogue, Long Island, the College offers degrees in more than 29 majors, special course offerings and certificates, affiliated and pre-professional programs.