A digital agency of 2022

Andras Huszti, Head of Talent at Youpal is giving his take on how a digital agency should change its operations by 2022 in order to be successful. Spoiler: they should be more like freelancers. 

I communicate with a lot of people working on Youpal’s projects on a daily basis. And I must admit: I have my favourites — the freelancers. They are not constricted by a chain of command and multiple people in-between on the side of the employers, they are flexible in all matters and, of course, they are a lot less expensive.

 

Two woman sitting near table using Samsung laptop

I will give you an example. When signing up a new contractor, we must go through several questionnaires, an NDA and a contract. Basic stuff that ensures we have all the info on the future teammate to ensure smooth communication and all the documents that ensure legally safe work for everyone involved. 

Now, with an agency this procedure on average takes up 2.4 weeks. In IT where everything moves with a speed of light and this is suuuuuper slow. With freelancers the whole thing can be done and gone within 3 days. That’s just the amount of time that will definitely not put our client’s project at a time-related risk and will not mess up our internal schedules.

Take this and apply it to any aspect of our work — from the request going out to teammates finishing their work on projects. With an agency there are always human layers in between that result in time layers and money layers. For us, as the agency’s client, that of course means that in the end the bottom line suffers. Whereas with freelancers it’s the reverse of everything above. 

 

Woman wearing black framed sunglasses

Don’t take me wrong. I know that working with freelancers has its downsides. Like, for instance, they can pack their things and go, even considering penalties, if they see a more lucrative opportunity elsewhere — the accountability in general is lower. And they are not always adapted to all the things a company needs to do, you know, the regular company stuff. Sometimes, a trivial thing like sending in an invoice can irritate some of them immensely. 

And don’t take me wrong — I love agencies. Most of our candidates and teammates come from agencies. I like working with agencies, for one, because they have a pool of candidates, meaning I can have just one contact for tens or hundreds of candidates. And if something should go wrong with one candidate they are likely to have a replacement. 

Despite my feelings and sympathies, I realize that as a client I want the best out of both worlds. If I have learned anything about economics, it’s that the demand shapes the supply. I am sure I’m not the only one that wants to eat his cake and have it too. There are many. We are the market. We are the demand. And sooner or later the market will adapt. Some agency will figure out a way to do just that — fix the supply so that it is super easy for the client to handle it on procedural level. And the avalanche will follow. And the ones not able to keep with the past will be left in the lurch. 

 

Green plant beside white desk

Based on my personal experience, I’ve put together a chart that shows the best of both worlds (the most basic things that come to mind). Maybe you, my reader, will be the one creating the agency of the new kind.

 

Feature

Agency

Freelancer

Rates closest to open job market salaries

        ✘

        ✔

Single contact for all matters

        ✘

        ✔

Single decision maker

        ✘

        ✔

Flexible accounting (switching between full outstaffing, T&M and project based payments) 

        ✘

        ✔

Experience in handling corporate procedures (without a learning curve)

        ✔

        ✘

Portfolio of candidates for the project

        ✔

        ✘

Hired teammate replacement availability

        ✔

        ✘

Resources for handling unusual & unexpected issues available as a rule only to companies

        ✔

        ✘

 

You might say that if an agency were to adopt all of these features, it would be the end of it. And you may be right. But isn’t that the story of every disruptive new way of doing things? It seems impossible until it isn’t anymore. Market finds a way.

Author: Andras Huszti- Head of Talent at Youpal

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