On-demand · Legal

Do freelancers really want to be full-time employees?

Lucas Jaz

September 10th, 2015

There is a huge debate fueled by all of the on-demand economy startups and their popularity that 1099 (independent contractors) should be full-time employees and get the benefits etc. But every time I jump into an uber or lyft the driver tells me they love it because of the flexibility and being able to work whenever they want (or not work).  It strikes me that these folks don't want the "bad" stuff that comes with being a full time employee?

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

September 10th, 2015

I've been a consultant for 5 years now. After my first job out of college working for Intel, after I learned what it meant, I never found a good reason to have a salary position. Here are my reasons why

With salary position
I don't control my income.
I don't talk directly to clients, having a middle man taking a cut on my work.
I don't control what projects I work on and what parts.
I don't control the languages I learn or improving my technology stack.
I get stuck with long projects that can last miserable, un-challenging years.
I don't get compensated for every hour I work. (you're going to take care of that in the bonus... please don't insult my intelligence)
I don't get credited for my work, the company I work for does.
I don't have the ability to work from home whenever I want to.
I don't have the ability to take off whenever I need to. I need to tell may boss? Why?
I don't get to call it a day when my work is done. I have to sit with my but in the chair till 5p..nay! 8p to keep the boss happy pretending to work. Such is business politics that makes no sense to me.
And, probably most importantly, I do not get to be a full, independent human being. Meaning, I do not get to be my own representation of myself. I do not stand with my accomplishments. I am a cog within the company's machine.

Being a consultant
I do

Chirag Rana

September 11th, 2015

I'm consulting in UX during most career because I LOVE my freedom. I can be full-time employee IF I get my freedom.
Totally agree with Aleksandra. I'd like to work in my own creative environment which is my home office or sometime a park in my town (yes it's fun to work under the tree). This way I'm more productive working 10 to 12 hours a day without getting tired.

Ben Winters

September 11th, 2015

I love the self-determination that freelancing enables/requires. One thing that I am missing is the feeling of building something bigger than myself that I *might* find through long-term team collaboration in a global company. That doesn't mean Fortune 500, but a venture-backed company that you believe in could be a good fit for some people.

Daniel Rodriguez VP Technology at Admit.me

September 15th, 2015

I think it's important to be a little clear on the freelancer distinction.  A freelancers working for Uber and a freelance programmer are two very different animals.  A programmer can bill 60-140+/hr while a driver cannot.  OP, which type of freelancer are you talking about?

Hoofar Pourzand PhillyTalent.com

September 15th, 2015

I've interned at Google as a project manager, worked for one year at a company and while at it done freelancing work and later hired freelancers for my own work. I don't think freelancers in general "want" to be on an employee based commitment anymore. Also, the top tier ones, with a good margin of confidence, will do anything to not get caught in one employee-contract and do enjoy switching between startups. Also, "full-time" won't shy them away. Most of the people I work with today in fact have worked with me in the past on a full-time freelancing basis. oDesk (now Upwork), elance, and the list goes on an on. Maybe I'm being too loose with my inferences but I want to say that full time Freelancers on averalge work +60 hours per week. The talent market has changed significantly over the past ten years and in my opinion for the better- rewarding hard work designers, developers and consultants (this list is not that big by the way). On top of other reasons mentioned above, here is why I switched to be a freelancer myself:

1- You can pick up a technology you like to work on, you don't need someone else to tell you what to do so that you'll be valuable for future

2- You don't have to be with three office workers all the time, every day, every year, for ten years. (There is a reason the TV show Office was a hit here- many relate to it.)

3- You will grow more holistically in your own community by yourself.

4- Stability. Despite what many think, working as an employee doesn't provide you any more stability than your worth, which again that's why if your worth is high you should start freelancing.

5- You'll get the credit you deserve- worths re-mentioning.

6- You don't have to convince someone to give you a raise. Someone told me she is offered a raise, I told her that's a sign for you to leave that firm. She applied for two other companies- she got a better job at a better location by herself and she get to reject the offer (which she still jokes about it). The morale of the story: every employer will pay you just enough to keep you around and not more. That is not because they are evil, that is because many of the firm don't fully understand the new talent market.

Now, I hire contractors myself- is it a double standard of me not to be in favour of employee based works? No, in fact this is my advantage. I get to work with better talent, a lot easier. (There is of-course downsides that I'm not mentioning here- in fact all the reasons I mentioned above could be a reason to do an employee based contract, depending on your major, age, social connections, values, etc.)

The employee-employer legal frameworks was not designed to favour the employee. [Also, I think] it's doing a disservice to the employers too. Historically, 1920s with the first round of industrialization it started, peaked right after the WWII and it should have been drastically changed by 1985s. Those who understood the value of starting your own work early enough back then, started the new order we see today (Sun Systems, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon)- and that was one of their geniuses.

Putting anyone on an employee contract is a risk to any company too. I constantly work with the hiring managers and am witness to all the new federal compliances, etc. they go through every three to four years- which, not surprisingly, market-wise doesn't make any sense to them either.

Michael Barnathan Adaptable, efficient, and motivated

September 10th, 2015

But you have to directly deal with all of the annoying clients who don't know what they want and often need "reminders" to pay you for the work you completed :)

I love where the on-demand economy is going. I think it will eventually drive some change into healthcare, of all places. Why? Because when everyone's 1099ed, the racket of charging $1000 for routine bloodwork that mysteriously drops to $5 when you pull your insurance card out will have to stop. Or an organization like the Freelancer's Union will suddenly have a very viable business model aggregating and selling group insurance plans to on-demand workers.

Which you could probably do today for Uber/Lyft drivers, actually...

Peter Kestenbaum Advisor, Investor, Mentor to Emerging firms

September 10th, 2015

uber/lyft while very visible are not a good yardstick to use..  the answer is simply it depends..

- 10,000 folks become babyboomers each day... Many do not want a full time job and have ( or have access to ) benefits..  but they have no need financially, nor interest in a full time gig..

- it might not be a function of working when you want but when you need to..  Might be family situation, or other commitments such as school, childcare

- there use to be a 1099 "stigma".   meaning you were a 1099er because you were "between" jobs..  thats not true anymore..

- its a different economy...  20 or 30 years ago your objective was to go work for citibank or ibm for 20 years and have the company take care of you.. Also economic models for many roles dictate 1099 employment... that is I only want to compensate the employee when the employee is generating revenue for me.  Think the Geek squad..  I only want to pay the employee when he is working..  If I have no computers to work on in a specific day why should he/she be on my payroll

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

September 10th, 2015


You need to hone your business model if you have trouble getting your invoices paid. I put it in every one of my contracts that invoices get paid weekly otherwise I have no way of gauging whether to continue doing the work. Let me know if you need more advice on that.


Michael Barnathan Adaptable, efficient, and motivated

September 10th, 2015

I don't have that trouble anymore (though I'm not in that business anymore - my only freelance activity at this point is the odd request from past clients whom I've enjoyed working with). I eventually ended up instituting a system of milestones similar to what you're describing. That way any loss due to client cashflow issues (usually the cause) was limited to two weeks of work.

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

September 11th, 2015


well...the topic of conversation is... "Do freelancers really want to be full-time employees?" That's why we're talking about what freelancers want :-) 

I am an LLC and am a consultant on purpose, not because a work space has classified me that way to save money. So, I don't really understand how the troubles you describe affect me. I get my own insurance and don't need to worry about any employers taking advantage of me.