Perspectives

Wripple’s 2024 Team Up Report Highlights

April 2, 2024
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Perspectives from Freelancers and Companies on Creating Effective Collaboration for Modern Marketing Success

In late 2023, we conducted our third Team Up Research study aimed at understanding how freelancers and the companies that hire them come together to get great work done.  

It’s no surprise that marketing teams have long relied on independent professionals to meet demand and achieve their goals. Today, the benefits of freelancing are more important than ever. The specialized expertise, operational flexibility, and cost-effectiveness that freelancers provide address marketing’s increasing complexity and demands to do more with less.

Given the essential role that blended teams of freelancers and full-time employees play in the modern marketing workforce, this latest version of our Team Up Report takes a deeper look at how well these teams function—what’s working and what’s needed for teams to reach their full potential as one seamless workforce.

Underscoring the importance of getting this right: a 2022 joint study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found that 33% of work is being performed by external workers and 86% of global business leaders said the effective management of external contributors was critical to their organization’s overall performance.1

In the pursuit of modern marketing success, our 2024 Team Up Report’s findings will help freelancers and marketers understand how to work better together—and we hope they challenge assumptions, shape decisions, and ultimately build a stronger, more empathetic, and collaborative workforce.

Getting the Story from Both Sides

Wripple partnered with MDRG, an independent research company, to conduct two surveys in October 2023. One targeted freelancers and the other focused on the marketing and HR leaders at enterprise and mid-market companies who hire freelancers. In total, we collected 414 completed surveys – 200 from freelancers and 214 from companies.

Throughout this report, when we refer to freelancers, we mean an independent professional who works for themself rather than for a company. They could technically be a freelancer or a contractor. When we refer to companies, we mean the full-time employees who work with freelancers.

Setting the Stage

MDRG and Wripple established 5 learning objectives:  

  1. Perceptions. Uncover the perceptions freelancers and companies have regarding their work together.  
  1. Alignment. Determine the effectiveness of methods used to align on job requirements.
  1. Operations. Understand how well onboarding and operations processes set up blended teams for success.
  1. Workforce Management. Assess how companies manage freelancers for sustained value, including optimization and ongoing talent engagement.
  1. Team Dynamics. Identify ways to maintain fulfilling team dynamics amidst changing team structures and shifting worker priorities.

Let’s start with what’s working well.

Despite a topsy-turvy economy and labor market, both freelancers and companies feel good about the project work experience, the value they get from their work, and the potential for future engagements.  

Overall satisfaction with the work is high.

Both freelancers and companies are satisfied with their engagements. Satisfaction has also improved since 2022—up 14% for freelancers and 15% for companies.

Both feel they get a good value.

Companies’ perception of the value for the work delivered is mostly positive. At the same time, freelancers are happy with their compensation. It’s win-win.

The outlook is bright for future work.

Both freelancers and companies anticipate working together more in the future. This is likely due to a more positive mindset coming out of the pandemic and increasing acceptance of freelancing in the economy.

But like any relationship, there are always areas to improve.

While freelancers and companies have positive views about teaming up, they both perceive there is still work to be done operationally and strategically.  

We see that freelancers and companies are fairly in sync on ways to improve how they work as a team, pointing to a need for clear guidance and support, more consideration of fit for the assignment, and better onboarding and briefing.  

One significant difference—freelancers point to the need for stronger standards and professionalism, while companies are far less likely to say that this is an issue. This tells us that companies, even if they think things are going well, should look at how they engage freelancers and be open to feedback that could improve the freelancing experience.

Digging deeper, we start to get into one of the most fundamental limitations of freelancing’s role within the workforce—both freelancers and companies view freelancing’s overall role in the workforce as constrained.  

 

Core Challenge: The “Works Well Enough” Problem

Juxtaposing freelancers’ and companies’ high project satisfaction with the perception that freelancing’s role is not managed as a core part of the overall workforce points to acceptance of the status quo.    

These blended teams are functioning well enough at the project level, but freelancing is held back from realizing its full potential as a driver of success within the modern marketing workforce.

To break through the status quo, teams need to shift from a project-to-project mentality to consistently managing freelancing as an ongoing strategic part of a company’s holistic workforce.  

This requires a new mindset that does away with a hard distinction between inside vs. outside talent and old-school ways of working.  

A lot of the heavy lifting falls on companies to make change happen, but freelancers have responsibilities too: maintaining professionalism, upskilling, and raising awareness of what will improve the freelancing experience for everyone’s benefit.

Status Quo Busting

Insights from the research provide five recommendations to put complacency in its place.

Reduce the Professionalism Deficit - Instill more trust, confidence, and respect throughout all aspects of the relationship. This requires establishing partnerships built on mutual understanding, transparency, and a commitment to process standards.
Modernize End-to-End - Leverage tech to provide a better talent experience, gain speed to market, and reduce friction. This entails integrating FTE and freelancer data which will also support more holistic workforce planning, risk management, and optimization.
Wipe Out Persistent Process Pain Points - Set quality standards for hiring, onboarding, and delivery. Pay close attention to providing thorough job descriptions, informative project briefs, and clear points of contact for freelancers to resolve HR and work issues.
Capitalize on Freelancing’s Multi-Dimensional Nature - Embrace the freelance marketing workforce as a deep, cross-discipline pool of experts. Many specialists are leading the charge in tech innovation and using freelancers provides unmatched flexibility for building fit-for-purpose teams.
Commit to Core Values Across the Entire Workforce - Engage freelancers with a genuine commitment to values that are important to the modern workforce, most notably DEI, flexibility, and opportunities that provide meaningful challenges and growth.  

As stated, freelancing already plays a critical role in marketing. These five recommendations will help companies and freelancers drive even stronger returns and gain strategic advantage through a more modern approach to on-demand work.

For the full research report, including freelancer and company deep dives, download the report.

MDRG Logo

For this report, Wripple partnered with MDRG, a market research firm that takes a white-glove approach to helping organizations like Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, and Microsoft craft custom research that informs strategy and planning across brand, product, experience, and advertising.

MDRG is a member of Wripple's Agency Portal where independent agencies with specialized expertise can be matched with clients across a range of marketing needs.

Learn more at mdrginc.com

1Elizabeth J. Altman et al., Orchestrating workforce ecosystems: Highlights from MIT-SMR and Deloitte’s third annual study of the workforce, Deloitte Insights, May 17, 2022.

2McKinsey American Opportunity Survey, Spring 2022

Brian Deloach
Search Engine Optimization
Zebbie Gillispie
Creative Direction & Designer
Evelyn Creekmore
Content Strategy & Writer
Angie Vaughn
Marketing & Email Strategy
Andrew Golubock
Engagement Manager

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To learn more about any or all of these solutions, contact your Wripple Client Lead, or request a demo.

Perspectives from Freelancers and Companies on Creating Effective Collaboration for Modern Marketing Success

In late 2023, we conducted our third Team Up Research study aimed at understanding how freelancers and the companies that hire them come together to get great work done.  

It’s no surprise that marketing teams have long relied on independent professionals to meet demand and achieve their goals. Today, the benefits of freelancing are more important than ever. The specialized expertise, operational flexibility, and cost-effectiveness that freelancers provide address marketing’s increasing complexity and demands to do more with less.

Given the essential role that blended teams of freelancers and full-time employees play in the modern marketing workforce, this latest version of our Team Up Report takes a deeper look at how well these teams function—what’s working and what’s needed for teams to reach their full potential as one seamless workforce.

Underscoring the importance of getting this right: a 2022 joint study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found that 33% of work is being performed by external workers and 86% of global business leaders said the effective management of external contributors was critical to their organization’s overall performance.1

In the pursuit of modern marketing success, our 2024 Team Up Report’s findings will help freelancers and marketers understand how to work better together—and we hope they challenge assumptions, shape decisions, and ultimately build a stronger, more empathetic, and collaborative workforce.

Getting the Story from Both Sides

Wripple partnered with MDRG, an independent research company, to conduct two surveys in October 2023. One targeted freelancers and the other focused on the marketing and HR leaders at enterprise and mid-market companies who hire freelancers. In total, we collected 414 completed surveys – 200 from freelancers and 214 from companies.

Throughout this report, when we refer to freelancers, we mean an independent professional who works for themself rather than for a company. They could technically be a freelancer or a contractor. When we refer to companies, we mean the full-time employees who work with freelancers.

Setting the Stage

MDRG and Wripple established 5 learning objectives:  

  1. Perceptions. Uncover the perceptions freelancers and companies have regarding their work together.  
  1. Alignment. Determine the effectiveness of methods used to align on job requirements.
  1. Operations. Understand how well onboarding and operations processes set up blended teams for success.
  1. Workforce Management. Assess how companies manage freelancers for sustained value, including optimization and ongoing talent engagement.
  1. Team Dynamics. Identify ways to maintain fulfilling team dynamics amidst changing team structures and shifting worker priorities.

Let’s start with what’s working well.

Despite a topsy-turvy economy and labor market, both freelancers and companies feel good about the project work experience, the value they get from their work, and the potential for future engagements.  

Overall satisfaction with the work is high.

Both freelancers and companies are satisfied with their engagements. Satisfaction has also improved since 2022—up 14% for freelancers and 15% for companies.

Both feel they get a good value.

Companies’ perception of the value for the work delivered is mostly positive. At the same time, freelancers are happy with their compensation. It’s win-win.

The outlook is bright for future work.

Both freelancers and companies anticipate working together more in the future. This is likely due to a more positive mindset coming out of the pandemic and increasing acceptance of freelancing in the economy.

But like any relationship, there are always areas to improve.

While freelancers and companies have positive views about teaming up, they both perceive there is still work to be done operationally and strategically.  

We see that freelancers and companies are fairly in sync on ways to improve how they work as a team, pointing to a need for clear guidance and support, more consideration of fit for the assignment, and better onboarding and briefing.  

One significant difference—freelancers point to the need for stronger standards and professionalism, while companies are far less likely to say that this is an issue. This tells us that companies, even if they think things are going well, should look at how they engage freelancers and be open to feedback that could improve the freelancing experience.

Digging deeper, we start to get into one of the most fundamental limitations of freelancing’s role within the workforce—both freelancers and companies view freelancing’s overall role in the workforce as constrained.  

 

Core Challenge: The “Works Well Enough” Problem

Juxtaposing freelancers’ and companies’ high project satisfaction with the perception that freelancing’s role is not managed as a core part of the overall workforce points to acceptance of the status quo.    

These blended teams are functioning well enough at the project level, but freelancing is held back from realizing its full potential as a driver of success within the modern marketing workforce.

To break through the status quo, teams need to shift from a project-to-project mentality to consistently managing freelancing as an ongoing strategic part of a company’s holistic workforce.  

This requires a new mindset that does away with a hard distinction between inside vs. outside talent and old-school ways of working.  

A lot of the heavy lifting falls on companies to make change happen, but freelancers have responsibilities too: maintaining professionalism, upskilling, and raising awareness of what will improve the freelancing experience for everyone’s benefit.

Status Quo Busting

Insights from the research provide five recommendations to put complacency in its place.

Reduce the Professionalism Deficit - Instill more trust, confidence, and respect throughout all aspects of the relationship. This requires establishing partnerships built on mutual understanding, transparency, and a commitment to process standards.
Modernize End-to-End - Leverage tech to provide a better talent experience, gain speed to market, and reduce friction. This entails integrating FTE and freelancer data which will also support more holistic workforce planning, risk management, and optimization.
Wipe Out Persistent Process Pain Points - Set quality standards for hiring, onboarding, and delivery. Pay close attention to providing thorough job descriptions, informative project briefs, and clear points of contact for freelancers to resolve HR and work issues.
Capitalize on Freelancing’s Multi-Dimensional Nature - Embrace the freelance marketing workforce as a deep, cross-discipline pool of experts. Many specialists are leading the charge in tech innovation and using freelancers provides unmatched flexibility for building fit-for-purpose teams.
Commit to Core Values Across the Entire Workforce - Engage freelancers with a genuine commitment to values that are important to the modern workforce, most notably DEI, flexibility, and opportunities that provide meaningful challenges and growth.  

As stated, freelancing already plays a critical role in marketing. These five recommendations will help companies and freelancers drive even stronger returns and gain strategic advantage through a more modern approach to on-demand work.

For the full research report, including freelancer and company deep dives, download the report.

Companies

To learn more about how Wripple can help your team thrive in the future of work, book a demo.

Freelancers

If you’re a digital professional interested in becoming a member of our talent marketplace, apply to join.

Freelancers

If you’re an experienced marketing freelancer interested in joining Wripple, apply today.

Companies

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