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Can Full-Time Tech Workers Survive the Gig Economy? (dice.com) 169

Nerval's Lobster writes: By some measures, more than 40 percent of U.S. workers will be independent in 2020. Today, that number stands at 34 percent, according to the Freelancer's Union. By all accounts, the trend seems widespread enough to indicate that tech pros should prepare themselves for the dynamics of a world that depends more on contingent work. The question isn't whether the tech world will see an increasing prevalence of 'gigs,' rather than full-time positions; it's whether those in full-time positions can easily keep their jobs when there's pressure to farm it out cheaply and easily to freelancers. Or will the need for people who can see projects through the long term prevent the 'gig economy' from radically changing the tech industry?
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Can Full-Time Tech Workers Survive the Gig Economy?

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  • Permanent staff are seen as a burden. They will look for any way to reduce that, so long as their (or their bosses) jobs are not the ones affected.
    • I think you make a valid point. Super easy to get around: Start outsourcing bean counter's job as well. I am sure we will see the trend reverse itself right away.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The beancounter is the one doing the outsourcing though. You really think that they're going to sack themselves? More likely they'll give themselves a nice big bonus for all the "efficiencies" they've achieved, then retire early before the company tanks as a result of all the people who actually make/understand the product vanishing.

    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:20PM (#50989601)

      a big correction is coming, outsourcing mission critical systems can end very badly, especially if it involves countries with huge black markets for stolen data with no real legal venue to pursue. yeah India is prime example of what I'm talking about, and if you farm out to any former soviet country their mafias will make a killing on your data too (as aside sometimes that's not a pun)

      • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:16PM (#50989993) Homepage

        "A big correction is coming ..."

        FTFY (but, really, it wasn't a very big correction after all.) Here [wikipedia.org] is some additional helpful information.

        • the syntactic uses of cases is a fairly modern practice, for most of history it was more a stylistic choice. hence, i merely choose to at times ignore trendy fads.

      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:25PM (#50990063)

        It's not just about security though. Outsourcing does not give you workers who care about your company. Their transients, a few bugs won't bother them. A security hole isn't worth patching. Billable hours is the only thing that will matter. Your company is trying to make something new and unique and the guy at the other end of the phone says "yes, sure, we can do that, we're the expert in that!" and then 24 months later they've vanished and you've got nothing to show for it.

        Then the workers will want to start standardizing so that they can migrate their jobs more easily, requesting that certificates take the place of interviews and evaluations.

        • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:58PM (#50990379)

          I have to explain that to people all the time.

          To an employee, you are a paycheck / insurance / vacation-time / etc. If they fuck up they have to go through the interview process to replace those items. And it is in their best interest to do the job correctly so they don't have to deal with the problems or the hassle of interviewing.

          To a contractor, you are billable hours. If they fuck up they have to find replacement billable hours. That's it. They don't care whether it works right because they can charge to fix it. Again. And again. If they find a customer who pays better, you'll be on your own. Unless you want to cough up more money.

          • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @12:54AM (#50991647)

            After spending time as both a full time employee (FTE) and consultant, I find the dynamic can quite often be the opposite of what you describe.

            To an employee, you are a paycheck / insurance / vacation-time /etc. If they do a great job they will get the same paycheck as if they do a mediocre job. Maybe they will get an extra 1% raise. As long as they don't royally fuck up, they will not get fired. As Peter Gibbons put it, an employee relationship will "only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."

            To a contractor, you are a gold mine. They can make enough in 4-5 months to match what an FTE gets in a year, even counting benefits. And their ability to get more of these gigs in the future is mostly dependent on making each client happy. If they do a great job, instead of a 1% raise they get another 1000 billable hours at $225 each. This is quite the motivation to do a great job.

            Both your scenario and my scenario happen. Finding a great employee and a great consultant are both rare and incredibly valuable.

          • Well said. Those who preach privatisation as the best way to bring down costs "because private companies are so much better at being efficient", should think about this. I think it's common sense - it certainly stands out clearly in the UK, IMO.

            The NHS is the most current example, I suppose - costs are spiralling out of control, mostly for two reasons: having to hire agency staff (ie. outsourcing to the private sector) and not being able to send patients home after treatment, because the councils have no re

          • I have to explain that to people all the time.

            To an employee, you are a paycheck / insurance / vacation-time / etc. If they fuck up they have to go through the interview process to replace those items. And it is in their best interest to do the job correctly so they don't have to deal with the problems or the hassle of interviewing.

            To a contractor, you are billable hours. If they fuck up they have to find replacement billable hours. That's it. They don't care whether it works right because they can charge to fix it. Again. And again. If they find a customer who pays better, you'll be on your own. Unless you want to cough up more money.

            Ah, so corporations are gong to see what it's like to work for a corporation.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Outsourcing does not give you workers who care about your company.

          Neither did perma-temping in the pre-outsource days. But that didn't stop anybody.

          These days virtually no one from the janitor to the CEO expects to be at the same company long enough to care about the company itself.

          • These days virtually no one from the janitor to the CEO expects to be at the same company long enough to care about the company itself.

            At the company I work for, we have over 20 employees. We hire a couple new employees every year and very few have every left. Most have now been with us for 10-20 years and will most likely stay with us until they retire. Very few have worked for us for less than 5 years and the few that have left have generally left for things unrelated to the job like deciding to be a stay at home parent or moving their family out of state.

            • And when you sell the company to cash out, all of those employees will be screwed heavily about 90% of the time.

              In many cases, the customer list will be taken, the employees will be dumped, the physical and software capital will be ash-canned.

              You can never depend on a company to take care of you unless is it in writing.

              For most employees, if they stay at a company over 10 years, they are screwed if the job ever ends.

        • Outsourcing does not give you workers who care about your company.

          Employing people does not give you workers who care about your company, except in tedious business-obsessed countries like the US where everyone thinks they'll be a millionaire next year, like humourless versions of Del Boy Trotter.

          • No, we may not necessarily care about the companies per se. But we do care about our coworkers, we may care about the customers, and we usually care about quality of the products we make. Even at the base pragmatic level where the inner voice says "don't screw this up because you'll have to keep maintaining it for a few years." Of course some workers are an exception to this, but in general I tend to see that actual employees will spend more effort making sure things are done right.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Usually they will only consider someone who has worked on a similar project and can provide references.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Get rid of all employees. That will save a lot of money, brilliant fucking idea, wait... who is going to buy all this shit when nobody has a job?
      Ahh, don't matter print some more fucking petro-dollars.

      • First they came for the regular jobs.
        But that's okay, there's always the crappy gig economy.

        Then they cam for the gig jobs
        But there's also the robot economy.

        Oops - humans can't compete on cost with a robot.

    • I've been closely involved with top-performing sectors of internet (including web hosting, etc) businesses since the around 1995-1996. It started out as mostly freelancers, mom and pop shops, doing business with each other. It's been cosolidating into much larger companies in a very noticeable way. The reason is cost. It costs more to have have 400 seperate companies, each employing one or two people, then to have one company employing 400 people.

      Consider but two examples - taxes and insurance. If you

      • Sigh...you REALLY don't know how this shit works, do you? Let old Hairy break it down for ya, mmkay?

        1.-Corp A MBA (Master of Being an Asshole) gets hired, he fires everybody and replaces them with outsourcing. 2.- Because you have a broken stock market [youtu.be] thanks to the billions pumped in by the feds thanks to 401Ks and 403Bs you have a market filled with gamblers so the second they see Corp A profits went up? Stock bounces, MBA gets credit for his "aggressive cost cutting measures". 3.- MBA cashes out, gets hi

        • > Just look at Circuit City, where the MBA fired all the high paid employees (who were making that much because they were highly knowledgeable and good at making sales)

          I can't look at. Circuit City, they're gone. Moves like this which increase costs while reducing revenue and causing bankruptcy are self-limiting for private companies. And to be honest, "bankrupted Circuit City" as actually a -bad- mark on one's resume. The former Circuit City CEO is currently unemployed/ self-employed, looking for gig

          • It was the CEO BEFORE the last one that burnt the company for the insurance, that is how this works. Its the same with AMD, the current CEO is trying to stop the bleeding, even going so far as to hire back the designer of the Athlon64 from Apple, but it was the one after the founder (Rory Read I think, but they went through 3 real quickly) that fired everybody and cashed out.

            You see its like playing hot potato, you don't want to be the one left with the bag.

            • Look it up. The CEO who fired all of the high-paying sales people - see what job he has now. He's got a web site where he's looking for gigs because he can't get a steady job.

    • yep thanks to wallstreet and bean counters. Oddly enough they are powered by retirement funds, how is that for a bad sense of irony?

    • It doesn't make it any less short sighted. It takes months at a minimum for new staff to come up to speed and work well in a new environment. Short term staff have no reason to care if the company they work for even continues to exist beyond the end of their contract. They surely have no incentive to make sacrifices and difficult choices out of concern for the long term health of their employer.

      • Of course it's short-sighted. But do you think the bean counters and their bosses care more about long term prospects than they do about short term profits that juice their stock options into the black?
  • We all are freelancers to a degree: we bid on recurring contracts for our employment. There will always be a cohort of workers who want nothing to do with managing the ins and outs of "working for oneself".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Btw, does Mr. Betteridge work for Dice? Certainly looks like he won't be out of a job anytime soon!

  • The days of English and a good US science related degree are been replaced by random private sector staff with skills from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland.... parts of the EU... Asia, Africa, South America..
    If only something could be used as leverage that other nationals can never out study or accept lower conditions or pay for?
    Welcome to the exciting world of the security clearance and join the growing government and mil contractor ranks.
    Great pay, a simple private sector interview, som
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:21PM (#50989615)

    %40 I don't think so...

    I guess I've read too many political articles and everything now smells like an ad, a conspiracy or outright propaganda.

    "Carolyn Ockels: Carolyn is the Managing Partner at Emergent Research. Carolyn's current research and consulting is focused on economic decentralization"

    Focused...

    • %40 I don't think so...

      I guess I've read too many political articles and everything now smells like an ad, a conspiracy or outright propaganda.

      LOL, that's because most of it is!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Department of Made Up Statistics has been busy this year with a 107% increase in productivity.

  • Companies are just shells containing people.
    Without people they are just empty shells.
    Greed will destroy society, sooner than we think.

  • by Squiddie ( 1942230 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:31PM (#50989683)
    These bozos wouldn't stop to wonder if this was the new normal. This is as sickening as financial analysts marveling at the possibility that the US as a nation of renters rather than homeowners could be the "new normal."
  • Dice "insights" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:31PM (#50989685) Homepage
    The article seemed to be far fetched. It all made sense when I looked up and saw that it's just another idiotic dice "insights" spam.
    • Even the blind hog (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:29PM (#50990091)
      finds the acorn now and then (and yes, I know Hogs hunt by smell, it's an expression, roll with it).

      They're probably trying to dance around the real issue, which is that there isn't going to be enough work for all us tech workers. With all the outsourcing and H1-Bs and what have you. That plus the "Gig Economy" is a fancy way to say companies don't want to pay for benefits, paid leave and pay raises. It's basically a massive pay cut on a scale that I don't think has ever happened. You don't really want to bring that up because if you think you're having a hard time swallowing these "insights" imagine what accepting the brutal reality of the "Gig Economy" is like...
  • by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:35PM (#50989715) Homepage

    On a site that frequently ridicules the short-sighted behavior of eliminating experienced employees to bring in fresh (cheap) college graduates, it seems out of place to have a positive outlook on pervasive outsourcing.

    If everyone is a contract worker doing works-for-hire, then nobody has extensive institutional knowledge. You are constantly explaining and re-explaining how your business works, and bugs are repeatedly entering codebases because the developer hasn't spent years understanding the business and its workflows. It doesn't matter how well documented your business is, developers will make mistakes when they are unfamiliar with your processes. When they can't look at a workflow or data structure and go 'that's not right' because they have spent years at the company learning how things work.

    Experience has value; not just experience coding, but experience with the company understanding how it works. Systems are rarely generic... they are embedded directly into the business logic unique to each company, and the less you need to learn and relearn the requirements of every system the more productive you can be.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      You are constantly explaining and re-explaining how your business works, and bugs are repeatedly entering codebases because the developer hasn't spent years understanding the business and its workflows.

      Based on experience I generally agree. Domain knowledge is very useful and seems undervalued by the industry.

      However, perhaps the changing economy will weed out companies with convoluted work processes, favoring those that keep their business rules, data, and work-flows clean and logical.

      It could push co's to

      • No way- things like healthcare are driven by government regulation, so you are going to end up with private sector business processes that are a convoluted mess.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      I've been pondering that subject lately. If what you say is true, then shouldn't the company with the experienced employees and the institutional knowledge have a competitive advantage in their markets? I would have thought that advantage would have manifested fairly early as the quality of the shoddy competitors declines, but I haven't seen such a trend. I'd also expect the advantage to widen as the companies composed of nothing but temps loses institutional knowledge over time. Again, not seeing it.

      Cont

    • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:29PM (#50990093) Homepage

      "Experience has value; not just experience coding, but experience with the company understanding how it works. Systems are rarely generic... they are embedded directly into the business logic unique to each company, and the less you need to learn and relearn the requirements of every system the more productive you can be."

      Everything you wrote is spot on. I recently witnessed this very thing happen. A company I know of was outsourcing their development to an eastern block company and they just couldn't do it. It should have been obvious, as the system they have is literally infested with custom business logic, and that business logic is by no means standard, typical, or intuitive. In this case the intent was to develop some in-house software further by outsourcing to people with no understanding of the company, and they thought it would work, because Agile! Seriously! It is sad that such a large section of today's software development community seem to lack an appreciation for having a forest, tree, and root perspective on the product(s) and company, and actually thinks Agile is a viable Engineering methodology. It's pitiful.

      • If you have managers who were taught in MBA school that you don't need to know anything about widgets to run a widget-making business, they're gonna believe that similarly it isn't required that the programmers know the business to program for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It is sad that such a large section of today's software development community seem to lack an appreciation for having a forest, tree, and root perspective on the product(s) and company, and actually thinks Agile is a viable Engineering methodology. It's pitiful.

        I think it's important to emphasize that almost without exception it's the management, and not the engineers, who fail to understand this. It should be simple, but apparently the MBA brain has great difficulty wrapping itself around it. Personally, I think that business schools, which promote the idea that any business can be understood according to simple "universal principles" (aka the 10 minute manager) without recourse to critical thinking or real world experience, are a big part of the problem, but I d

      • The company that I was very fortunate to retire from is now in year 6 of a 3 year SAP project. People there tell me the schedule has now been officially adjusted from a 3 year project to a 20 year project to be completed in 2030.

        Infosys told them it had SAP expertise and then failed to deliver. The company even had to hire back some of the people it laid off at higher salary.

        Dumb dumb dumb.

    • The folks driving these changes figured that about 10 years ago. The solution is really, really simple. Labor costs have plummeted. It's cost effective to devote 5+ poorly paid employees to a task that used to be managed by 1. Don't underestimate the "Gig Economy". No benefits and on demand labor. Have any downtime at work? Most techies relying on Institutional Knowledge do.

      So what you do it take complex tasks and break them down into simple processes. I'm sure you've seen this. Situations in a company
      • Institutional Knowledge is irrelevant. The folks driving these changes figured that about 10 years ago.

        Oh boy. I can safely say that you will never be part of any company that aspires to greatness. Oh, wait:

        Hi! I make Firefox Plug-ins. Check 'em out.

        Yup.

        You go on:

        So what you do it take complex tasks and break them down into simple processes. I'm sure you've seen this. Situations in a company where the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing.

        Seen this? You bet I have. The result is that nobody understands how they're contributing to the whole. The players create a pastiche of interpretations that resemble a tangled ball of string. In a culture like that, the adherence to a grand design is a desperately futile dream.

        [other specious arguments about achieving greater efficiency by breaking up work units into even tinier pieces]

        This is all possible if you need only one person who understands the vision, who are supported by a multitude of w

    • If you hire a contractor for a long enough term, you can have pretty good amounts of institutional knowledge - You find a few contractors over time that really know the subject well and are effective workers, then do what you need to to keep them around at least a few years.

      These days you have just as much risk of key personnel leaving if they are any good. In some ways a contractor is less risky as they will be more prone to be clear if they need more money to stay on longer, whereas an employee might fin

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      If everyone is a contract worker doing works-for-hire, then nobody has extensive institutional knowledge. You are constantly explaining and re-explaining how your business works, and bugs are repeatedly entering codebases because the developer hasn't spent years understanding the business and its workflows. It doesn't matter how well documented your business is, developers will make mistakes when they are unfamiliar with your processes. When they can't look at a workflow or data structure and go 'that's not right' because they have spent years at the company learning how things work.

      The question is in what time frame the difference becomes apparent. If you have a sane system built up over time with institutional knowledge then for a time the odd fix here and there in the wrong place in the wrong way won't bring the system down. Sure you're building technical debt but the interest is far less than the principal in the beginning. It's only as you accumulate debt and people make terrible fixes on top of bad fixes because nothing makes sense the system becomes what is professional known as

    • On a site that frequently ridicules the short-sighted behavior of eliminating experienced employees to bring in fresh (cheap) college graduates, it seems out of place to have a positive outlook on pervasive outsourcing.

      If everyone is a contract worker doing works-for-hire, then nobody has extensive institutional knowledge. You are constantly explaining and re-explaining how your business works, and bugs are repeatedly entering codebases because the developer hasn't spent years understanding the business and its workflows. It doesn't matter how well documented your business is, developers will make mistakes when they are unfamiliar with your processes. When they can't look at a workflow or data structure and go 'that's not right' because they have spent years at the company learning how things work.

      Experience has value; not just experience coding, but experience with the company understanding how it works. Systems are rarely generic... they are embedded directly into the business logic unique to each company, and the less you need to learn and relearn the requirements of every system the more productive you can be.

      You're making a few assumptions.

      1. That contractors should be classed the same as outsourcing jobs overseas and H1B visa holders
      2. That contractors don't make up a significant portion of the people on this site
      3. That contractors don't know your business - which is no doubt true to some degree but contractors can bring other benefits to the table - experience and vision of how it's being done elsewhere that could be of benefit to the company

      Having been screwed over every time I accepted a perm job I have no

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It will be like those subprime loans that caused the banking crisis. Work will be contracted out to other companies which will cut costs by cutting corners subcontracting to yet other companies, who in turn will do the same, all the way to the bottom where the work is being done by 'independent freelancers' under contracts that in no way resemble the original requirements. Then, one day, it will all collapse when 'Amit Patel' in India just happens to be ill while a critical bug needs to be patched, the dama

  • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:37PM (#50989737)

    We are all temporary employees for the most part. I was told I was likely to have 6-7 jobs in my career, and less than halfway through I am on employer #7.

    The gigs might be getting shorter, but we have lived in a hire/fire economy for a couple decades now. Hire when you need folks, and cut them loose when you don't. Nothing new here. There are a lot of headaches with contractors that having employees actually avoid, namely the need to actually plan and think out a chunk of work before throwing warm bodies at it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My Loyalty to the company extends to the point of the next paycheck, no further.

    That's the company's treatment of me, and I reflect same.

    Lay me off at a whim, I'll tell you the CEO's password for a chocolate bar.

    • by tsstahl ( 812393 )

      Correct. Duty is bought; loyalty is earned.

      Though, I would never do anything to bring harm to the data.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:55PM (#50989859) Journal

    I used to "gig around" a lot, and found it difficult to co-raise a family under. If you are single and can hop all over the country and/or globe, that's great! But it's hard on families.

    During good times you may be able to stay mostly local, but good times rarely last. The boom/bust "business cycle" of capitalism has been going on long before the USA existed, and has yet to be solved.

    If gigs paid very well, then perhaps one could live with more gaps by saving up. But I have not seen a significant lasting pay advantage, especially during recessions.

    Maybe a few "elite" workers with speedy eyes and eidetic memories can pull it off and come out ahead of traditional salaries, but by definition, most of us are not elite.

    • most people want to believe they are elite. It's a pride thing or something. But it's really hard to get folks to admit they're average, even though it's statistically likely they are. That's what makes the Gig Economy and these lousy contractor jobs so enticing :(. I knew a tonne of contractors who swore by the work but had things much worse than me as an employee at jobs I did. I also noticed they took full time jobs first chance they got...
  • Is there business value in retaining, training, and developing individuals who will become domain experts with cross-functional expertise and proficiency with working within your business structure?

    Well, of course. That's a hypothetical question.

    The real question: is that value greater than the cost to retain them vs. the cost of hiring multiple underpaid, low quality workers, perhaps from another country?

    This is going to different industry to industry, and company to company.

    • Measuring true cost isn't always easy. I suppose measuring true value is hard as well. Think long-term cost and value. Labor is just part of the cost. Quality of work can be a cost when it is low and convey value when it is high. I can go on and on about aspects like this that should be measured and considered sufficiently by a business when they are planning staffing strategies. I will say that a business that sees an employee as nothing more than a dispensible warm body acting as a means to revenue

  • Finding, vetting, and hiring freelancers take up so much time and effort, not to mention cultural fit, getting them up to speed with the business and code quality and how it fits with the rest of the code-base, that I couldn't see most of the organizations that I've worked for, doing it to any appreciable amount.
    And as far as telecommuting freelancers to get a cost savings, I've seen companies turning more wary of workers telecommuting

  • Betteridge's law of headlines [wikipedia.org] doesn't look so good now, does it?

    • Came here to say this.

      Looks like Betteridge strikes again! It's time to move away from tech. I don't know why, but the Illuminati have decided that tech work must needs be worthless. We see H-1Bs, the Everyone Can Code! Narrative, and more. Our skills are derided, and we're painted as a bunch of misogynerds (regardless of lived gender, only the assigned one matters to these dipshits) who are keeping women out of tech with our jargon.

      Time to move on.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:12PM (#50989965) Homepage

    Having been on the permanent-staff team dealing with contract workers, I can't see permanent staff ever being replaced by "gig" developers. A lot of things depend on having not just skill in programming but familiarity with the business and prior decisions about the system's design and architecture. You can hire short-term people for specific tasks, but you need people who've been there long-term to work out how to fit new requirements into the system as it exists. Then there's maintenance. Bugs that make it into production tend to be obscure and hard to trace, and someone new who isn't intimately familiar with how things fit together's going to be completely lost trying to troubleshoot a bug that's not in any component but in the interaction between 3 different components (or worse, a bug caused by all 3 components being absolutely correct and bug-free but that particular account's so old it has a combination of settings on it that isn't currently legal and that the documentation doesn't mention).

    The permanent staff won't be the cheapest in absolute terms, but they'll be the cheapest in terms of dollars spent for results produced. This isn't a guess, it's a prediction based on the outcome of the vast majority of attempts to replace permanent development teams with contract workers and consulting firms.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Just because it's a bad idea doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Sometimes "the numbers" look good so people do it to progress their careers at the expense of their employer. A steelworks I worked at for a three month gig as a contractor went that way and they managed to go from record profit to completely shut down in under three years - but "the numbers" were good. Tons of steel per permanent employee hour was up through the roof - but so were costs.
      In software terms I'm using a package where permanent sta
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been working 10 years now as a freelancer. Like anything, it has its good and bad points.

    I'm pulling down the same sort of salary as I'd be getting as a permanent employee, once you factor everything in (e.g, I get more in my paycheck but I have to pay my own benefits, but it balances out about the same with everything considered). I get to be my own boss, pick and chose what I want to work on, and when, and for whom. On the other side of the coin, there's always the worry about finding the next gig

    • Same here. Most, if not all, of the contractors that I know feel the same way. Back before .com, one company was losing people who went freelance and had to make a rule that you could not come in as an independent for two years after working as a direct. You could have a two income family, one with benefits and the other bringing in major bank. It's still this way with most engineers I know.
  • pros should prepare themselves for the dynamics of a world that depends more on contingent work

    Nothing new here

  • Most people cannot survive running their own business, period. That said, skilled professionals who can should come out ahead doing independent contract work over full-time employment. You break even with around 1,000 billable hours in a year typically, if you can control your billing rate effectively. If you can't control your rate (or negotiate well), you end up needing to work about 1,600 billable hours to break even.

    Target billing rate should be full-time equivalent salary/2080 hours*3.0, or roughly

  • Ask the clothing piece workers how the "gig economy" goes. It's nothing new it's just a different sector of work bound for Bangladesh or whoever is bidding the least.
  • In my opinion, he videogame industry suffers from insufficient gigging. Instead of using temporary labor, they invariably hire for a bunch of "permanent" positions that they can't afford to keep filled, in the long term. Then, you see the all-too-typical giant wave of layoffs at the end of the project.

    A fake full-time position can be far more harmful than a temp position. At least with a temp position, you can make appropriate plans. With a fake full-time position, they hide the axe right up until it

    • I suspect that's an industry with exactly the right amount of gigging. It's a buyer's market for employees loaded with excess optimism! Sure, not every employee is naive enough to believe in the future of their fake full-time position, but I think we have to accept that many are, and most people in a management role aren't altruistic enough to tell others hard truths when it is just going to lead them to hire (potentially worse) people sooner.

  • I find the notion that there's "pressure to farm it out cheaply and easily to freelancers" to be ludicrous.

    I'm a software developer contractor in the UK. This is a relatively new thing for me - in my 20+ year career I've only been a contractor the past two. The last couple of years have been by far the most lucrative of my career. In every gig I've had I've been paid more than twice as much as the most senior permanent developer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Trust some entity to be my only source of income? No thanks. I'd rather have 2-3 income streams... they're not likely to shut down all at the same time.
    If you like your employee status you expose yourself to the whims of MBAs. Not a good idea.

  • I'm your Type-A 80ies computer kid turned web-dev in 2000. The line between stable long-term occupation and freelancer has been blurry ever since. This comes with the profession [slashdot.org] and the times we live in.

    I've been in active in the industry for 15 years and now call myself a "Consultant & Software Architect" for FOSS and non-trivial web-applications (flashy name required for being taken seriously as a senior). The software we use at my current employer is matured FOSS, most of the coding is done already.

  • Millions of workers are always being displaced by technology. It is foolish to assume that, in the near future, computers and machines will replace people at the top of the tech industries. Surely computers will be able to create superior software, vastly reducing the need for programmers as well as many others in the industry.
  • And either level off, or drop.

    When I was last looking, in '09, I hadn't seen so many temp-to-perm and direct hires in 15-20 years. And the reason: the fallout from the Microsoft lawsuit.

    Companies went to 3 years, then at least a six month "furlough" before they could be brought back on. Then two years. I think I even heard a report of 18 mos. For jobs that need to keep going, the hiring managers clearly had started pushing back. Even an experienced person, who might start being productive in a couple-three

Unix: Some say the learning curve is steep, but you only have to climb it once. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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