What is Fractional Work?

At a glance

Fractional work is when someone does specialized tasks for a company part-time or on a project-by-project basis. This work style has become increasingly popular in the modern business landscape.

Published on:
April 18, 2024

Understanding Fractional Employment

Fractional employment is when you work for a business only some of the time. Contracts differ between employers, but fractional workers (also known as freelancers or contractors) create their own agreements. Fractional jobs are common in consulting, marketing, and accounting, where skilled professionals offer their expertise.

Fractional work has gained popularity due to its flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Historical Context and Evolution

The fractional employment model started in academia, where professors divide their time between teaching, research, and other responsibilities. Over the past few years, it has gained popularity.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a rise in remote work because many offices closed and sent traditionally desk-based employees to do their jobs from home. Working from home, some people have taken on fractional work in addition to their full-time jobs.

This has caused more workers to prefer flexible or hybrid schedules. This means they work some days in the office and some days at home. This shift will have a long-term effect and a lasting impact. Coincidentally, these frameworks work well for fractional work.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a rise in remote working, and in turn, fractional jobs, and has had lasting impacts that still encourage fractional work today.

Advantages of Fractional Employment

For employers, fractional jobs are a cost-effective way to get access to specific expertise. Whether via a consultation, a few hours a week of part-time work, or many hours a week of work for a specific project, fractional work allows employers to get the benefits of a great worker for a fraction of the price of a full-time hire.

Fractional employees also have lots to gain from these roles, as they can take on projects in addition to their full-time workload or even make their living from various clients’ fractional work needs.

Pull-out: Fractional work is attractive to employees for the flexibility and extra income it can offer. For small business owners who can't afford expertise, it's cheaper than hiring full-time employees.

Challenges and Considerations

Businesses typically choose to work with a fractional employee to save money while getting to work with a specialist. However, a challenge that often comes up in these scenarios is the lack of stability as compared to a full-time hire. At some point, contractors may want full-time, rather than fractional, work.

Contracted positions offer more freedom but lack the security and structure of full-time and part-time roles. Fractional workers may not have enough time for all projects, leading to clients being deprioritized or dropped.

Fractional employment, while offering distinct cost savings to small businesses, may present challenges such as accommodating changing contractor preferences.

Best Practices for Small Businesses

While small businesses will often benefit from operating as a lean and loyal team, there are also advantages to hiring fractional workers. For example, it can be a great opportunity to get specialized advice, fill skill gaps, or help reach immediate or “back burnered” projects and goals.

The flexibility of fractional work, in addition to being cost-effective for hiring parties, provides many opportunities for small businesses to use it to achieve success.

Main takeaway

Fractional work is when people work part-time or on specific projects for organizations. This model is becoming popular because it is flexible and cost-effective. Fractional work means working part-time or on specific projects for organizations. This model is gaining popularity because it offers flexibility and cost savings. Businesses can access specialized help without committing to full-time employees, and workers can earn more money and enjoy a flexible schedule. 

Remote work became more popular during COVID-19, leading to an increase in fractional work. However, challenges such as job instability and fluctuating contractor availability are important factors for both employers and workers to consider.

About the author

Casey Pontrelli

Casey Pontrelli is a multi-talented professional with a background in content creation, branding, and social media marketing. Whether writing for a newspaper, eCommerce website, B2B startup, or a marketing agency, she has taken her strong background in journalism and turned her focus to SEO and content marketing. She’s written about everything from boutiques to cars to small businesses, and enjoys most when she knows her writing has had an impact. When she’s not writing up a storm or creating attention-grabbing social media posts, Casey enjoys hanging out with her two cats, Eddy and Larry, going on long walks in the Green Belt, and, predictably, reading.

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