When news broke last month that jobs in field service are booming, we turned to Peter Cannone, the CEO of OnForce, a Lexington, Mass.-based outsourcing firm, to learn more about hiring trends in field service. Perhaps it’s no surprise that he touted the value of hiring independent contractors and saw the trend continuing in the years ahead.

But his opinions touched off a nerve with some service techs, notably Scott Molinari, general manager of Germany’s Adduco Digital e.K. who argued passionately that in-house technicians give service outfits an incomparable advantage. Others read their debate here and weighed in.

We thought it would be useful to recap the discussion and let you decide which hiring model works best. First up: Cannone’s claim that independent contractors are an increasingly attractive option for companies looking for more flexibility in their staffing. With temporary workers, companies don’t have to spend the time and money, hiring, rehiring and retraining full-time workers, says Cannone. Instead, they can adjust their staffing levels according to current customer demand, thereby achieving a better balance between revenues and expenses.

It didn’t take long for Molinari to counter. In Molinari’s eye, there’s a high price to pay with the “rent-a-tech” model – in terms of time, professionalism and competitive advantage – and that too many service firms fail to recognize the return on investment in their technician workforce. “The service team is the cherry on your (hopefully) high-quality product pie land to make sure that cherry is really sweet,” insisted Molinari, “you must invest in your service team and stop looking at them as costs.

Cannone offered a rebuttal, in which he one more highlighted the benefits of outsourcing. But he also noted that neither model is “superior.” In fact, he argued, many companies are blending the two methods to create an optimal workforce, he wrote.

Now cue the SmartVan community. “John,” wrote that Cannone and Molinari both make good points, but that both models work depending on the company and its specific culture and needs. He then described which model works best for different types of businesses.

Tell us what you think. If you are a field service operator, how are you hiring these days. If you’re a service tech, do you prefer the flexibility of the independent-contractor model or does full-time employment work best for you? Post a comment below.