For business owners, hiring freelance workers can prove incredibly beneficial towards company growth. Freelancers now make up 35% of the workforce, so there are plenty of talented contractors in virtually all industry sectors.
There are, however, some differences from hiring full-time employees that you need to understand before hiring a freelancer (if you need to classify a worker, here’s a handy questionnaire). Here are six key considerations before diving in.
Freelancers are a great way to bring in specialized talent to support a project or accomplish tasks that your full-time employees are unfamiliar and unable to handle. They’re perfect when you need an expert in a field quickly and don’t have a lot of time to bring them up to speed on how to tackle a task. With a larger pool of talent to draw from – especially if the work is done remotely – it’s easy to find the right person for the job compared to the talent shortage affecting full-time recruitment.
Another great benefit of hiring contractors is not having to pay benefits for health care and retirement plans. Considering the growing cost of healthcare, this is a significant advantage. Keep in mind, however, that freelancers charge more per hour not only due to their areas of expertise, but also to help cover their costs – whether that be health insurance, 401(k), or other costs relating to their business. With sites like Upwork it’s easy to get competitive bids on your project and compare freelance contractors ratings and reviews.
Although freelancers may seem more costly due to benefit costs and the unsteady nature of finding freelance work, you could actually save money as freelancers are paid temporarily or on a per project basis. Because you don’t need to pay a hefty salary when there are no ongoing projects – and your freelancers are likely to work remotely, you can cut down costs in office upkeep and resources.
Speed and discipline
Dedicated freelance workers are typically committed to completing the task at hand as quickly as possible to move on to the next paying project. This means that they are often highly disciplined and deadline-oriented. Of course, you’ll still need to keep in touch and supervise their progress, but in many cases since they’ve chosen to take the plunge and work for themselves, they have learned over time to be highly disciplined and require minimal supervision. As they’ve most likely worked on a similar project in the past, the quality of work should be at a solid standard.
Training and supervision
As freelancers typically charge by the hour or per project, it is simply not cost effective to spend time training or instructing them on how to do a specific task. The time is best focused on their areas of expertise.
However, you may have tasks that you want to teach someone to complete that are specific to your business operations – for example, learning how to do some basic bookkeeping or use a particular software so that they can pitch in if you’re out of the office. In such instances, a full-time employee would be better suited as they will add more value to the business in the long run.
Communication Across Boundaries
As more people choose to work more flexibly, it’s become more prevalent and acceptable for businesses to hire remote workers. While it may seem challenging at first to collaborate with someone in a different geography or time zone, there are tools available that are custom built for managing virtual or mobile workers. Whether it’s communications tools such as web conferencing or instant messaging, project management systems to track multiple client initiatives, or other collaboration solutions, there are options to cater to all businesses.
Finding The Right Balance
When weighing up who to hire, freelancers are excellent resources for short term projects, specialized tasks, or work done remotely. Meanwhile full-time employees can dedicate their time across a variety of tasks across the entire business, and grow as your company does at the same time.
But in many cases these days, it’s not necessarily a case of choosing one type of worker over the other. Rather, it’s feasible to employ a mix of freelancers and full-time employees, taking advantage of what each group has to offer for your business to scale and succeed.