Very good article here, Stephen! Definitely trends I’ve been witnessing as well and I think the move toward distributed everything is just ramping up (a bit besmirched by Uber et. al., but they aren’t really doing this). I think, however, that there might be more to consider.
If traditional agencies (TA) swap out talent as they do for the reasons you outlined, what’s to stop the same process from happening via a “core agency” (CA)? As people coalesce for a project, they’ll tend to separate at the end of it. The “Hollywood” model I think encourages this even more so, since every film is at best a “one off”. Not to mention it has a tendency to create “stars”, whereby clients don’t care about your core, but only if you have that hot new dev/designer/producer on the project/movie.
The distributed office model works best and was developed for software developers/engineers. For far too long, agencies (even with the tacked on “interactive”), have been clinging to the “Mad Men” advertising agency model when they should be pivoting to more of an iterative software development model.
Depending on the freelancer, they could feasibly be working on/with more than one project/CA. This might help to alleviate freelancer flight since they control their amount of involvement in each project.
In my opinion, any distributed (and self-managed) model like you are suggesting would also require each person to wear many hats and have their stake in each project. In a since, everyone would be a “producer”, and the lines between designer, developer, project manager, client advocate will necessarily be blurred.
Of course, translating this software model to a client custom work on-demand has a whole set of challenges that maybe I’ll write about one day… when I figure them out!