Freelancing will not surprise anyone today. In the USA, 57 million workers opted for this gig economy employment option. And this figure makes almost 43% of the US workforce.
Moreover, crisis periods, like the one we are observing today, only push people to look for alternative ways of earning money. Some resources say that 90% of Americans would consider independent contracting. Businesses are actively rebuilding themselves to the new format and increasingly employing freelancers.
According to Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, an international freelance exchange, 30% of Fortune 500 companies regularly hire remote employees.
What companies prefer freelancers?
The portrait of a customer using independent contractors is changing. A few years ago, freelancers in the USA and Great Britain worked mainly with private entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium-sized businesses. But today their clients include companies of very different sizes - from local start-ups to international companies like Bloomberg and Netflix.
Employing an additional person is often a challenge, especially when it comes to a short-term project. It is much easier to negotiate with someone who already has enough skill to solve your problem.
Moreover, small and medium-sized businesses are often limited in resources and need to save money, so freelance workers are usually the right choice. Today, the professional level of freelance specialists is rapidly increasing as they invest a lot in education and upskilling.
Benefits of hiring freelancers
The main reasons why companies should consider working with an independent specialist are:
Cost reduction. It is perhaps the most obvious reason to hire a remote worker. The cost for a standard office employee is several times higher as it involves official employment of the staff, payment of taxes, providing a working place, and fixed wages. In the case of a freelancer, you need to pay only for a finished project. You can also completely eliminate or significantly reduce some of the biggest expense items: rent and utilities.
Motivation. Some office workers often imitate hectic activities, because the end result will not affect wages in any way. It is important for a freelancer to complete the task as quickly and efficiently as possible and receive payment for it and a positive recommendation.
Higher efficiency. Freelancers can focus on a specific project without being distracted by parallel tasks, meetings, and negotiations. That is why it is advisable to give work that requires a careful approach to a remote worker.
Creativity. Office employees get used to office routine and often fail to approach a project in an innovative way. Freelancers work with a multitude of tasks and resources on a daily basis, so they bring fresh and creative solutions.
Disadvantages of remote collaboration
There are some significant disadvantages of working with freelancers:
Missed deadlines. It is rather a challenge to organize remote work correctly without additional incentives in the form of a boss. It is a known fact that procrastination is common among remote workers.
Lack of control. When it comes to large longer-term projects, the presence of colleagues, a manager, and access to internal information is often necessary. Working remotely makes such tasks difficult. There may also be misunderstandings on the part of the contractor who is not familiar with the internal setup of the company.
The difficulty of assessing the cost of service. Experienced freelancers have a fairly clear idea of prices. It is important not to be tempted by low prices and not to hire the cheapest employees. In most cases, these are beginners who cannot yet provide high-level services.
Breach of confidentiality. Companies are often forced to provide an independent employee with access to corporate information to work with some projects. Not every employer is ready to take such a risk, but the problem can be solved differently. It is enough to conclude a non-disclosure agreement. This document is a legal contract between two parties for the mutual exchange of knowledge or other information while restricting access to it to third parties. It is an effective tool for protecting valuable information and is used to prevent leakage of any secret data, from commercial secrets to personal details.
How to manage risks of hiring freelancers?
There is no universal tool that will save you from all possible risks in cooperation with freelancers. But you may significantly reduce the probability of adverse consequences by following some simple tips:
Qualification check. A test interview will help determine the skills of the remote employee. When choosing a person for long-term cooperation, it is important to have an online meeting and carefully study the works in the applicant’s portfolio;
Clear task statement. You will not avoid misunderstandings if you fail to formulate the task clearly. It will lead to amendments and delays. Working with a freelancer, it is the first thing to develop accurate and clear task specification.
In-process control. It is reasonable to divide large projects into stages to allow the freelancer to determine the checkpoints. It will enable you to monitor the quality of performance and prevent problems with deadlines;
Communication. It is vital to keep in touch so that the employee does not have a feeling of detachment. This way, you will establish a relationship of trust, in which the performer will try to work better. Besides, you will be able to control the situation.
Deadlines. Usually, it is the weakest side of remote employees. For this reason, a flexible deadline approach works the best for a remote setup. It is also known as a floating deadline schedule. You can split the project into stages and monitor freelancers throughout their performance. This technique helps escape unexpected delays.
To protect yourself from the low-quality result, it is advisable to use specialized platforms that act as a guarantor between a customer and a freelancer. Modern freelance sites and other similar resources offer many tools for safe work. They protect the interests of both the client and the performer.
Check out our interview with Hotjar where we discussed their remote recruiting strategy
Freelancing and remote work is the future of the labor market. Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, says: “The ability to work from home forces staff to manage their time more efficiently. As a result, productivity grows, and the company makes bigger profits.” Businesses that fail to transform and work according to the new rules will face a shortage of specialists and experience high costs of maintaining their workforce.