Hiring permanent employees has been the status quo for businesses for years. However, today’s scaling companies frequently outsource project-based jobs to freelancers instead of hiring full-time staff.
Hiring freelancers can be cost-effective and provide flexibility. However, this employment structure isn’t suited to every organization and situation. We’ll examine the pros and cons of hiring freelancers to help businesses determine if this solution is right for their circumstances.
Companies choose to work with freelancers for various reasons, including the following.
Since COVID upended work as we knew it, more professionals have decided to freelance. Some take on additional work as a side hustle, while others freelance full time. Although challenges exist – such as income unpredictability and no set employee benefits – talented workers are readily available for project-based work.
According to Statista, an estimated 60 million people worked as freelancers in 2022, and an estimated 86.5 million will be freelancing by 2027 – more than half the total U.S. workforce. With so many people opting to freelance, companies have a wide range of choices in nearly every area, including freelance web developers, digital marketers and IT workers.
Younger workers are particularly suited to – and inclined to pursue – freelance work. According to Statista, 43 percent of Gen Zers and 46 percent of millennials report working as freelancers.
Since such high percentages of younger workers choose the flexibility and independence of freelancing, companies looking to tap into these generations’ talents must at least consider hiring freelancers.
Freelancers typically manage multiple clients. Because of their time-management skills, they tend to be more efficient and productive than their full-time counterparts. They earn money only when actively working on projects, motivating them to stay on top of their workload.
Additionally, freelancers typically work from home, and remote work productivity is often better than in-office productivity because there are no co-worker distractions and time-wasting commutes. Additionally, freelancers aren’t usually required at productivity-killing meetings.
There are benefits and risks when hiring freelancers. Here are some of the most significant upsides of hiring freelance talent.
Freelancing offers freedom and flexibility that a traditional 9-to-5 workday can’t provide. Many freelancers are drawn to these benefits, deepening the freelancing talent pool as more people in various fields bring their significant knowledge and expertise to freelancing gigs.
Say your company needs a professional writer for a project. Hiring a full-time writer wouldn’t make sense; your writing needs don’t justify a full-time employee. It would be expensive and a waste of company money. However, a freelancer would fit the bill perfectly. The company could find a freelancer with the precise skills needed, and the two entities would amicably part ways after the project’s completion.
When companies hire full-time employees, they must provide employee benefits, including health insurance, paid time off (PTO) and sick leave – expenses the company must pay. Freelancers are free agents – not part of any company’s permanent staff – so employers don’t have to provide them with benefits.
When freelancers are hired for projects, companies can spend less because they have to pay the freelancer for their services only. This is one of the most popular reasons organizations are turning to freelancers.
Not all projects and tasks require full-time or part-time employees. Many projects are one-off assignments with various start and end times throughout the year. These projects may require completely different skill sets, so hiring one person to complete them doesn’t make sense. You may hire someone with a specific skill set for one project who won’t be able to help on the next one.
Freelancers shine in project-based work. They’re constantly expanding their skill sets to keep up with industry trends. Even more importantly, they bring specific skill sets. You may need a graphic designer for one project and an app developer for another. Quality freelancing professionals can meet your needs as they evolve.
Most freelancers work from home, so companies don’t have to pay for additional office space needs for these workers or provide them with computers, desks, chairs and office supplies. These savings can add up significantly.
Freelancers give companies the flexibility to hire and downsize as needed. According to an A.Team survey, 71 percent of companies using freelancers say they enjoy greater agility in times of economic uncertainty. This agility makes it easy to quickly ramp up to meet demand or cut expenses as needed.
Additionally, freelancers don’t usually need extensive training or onboarding and don’t require a severance package when they’re no longer needed.
Freelance workers can be hired quickly and are often able and willing to put in extensive hours, even nights and weekends, to complete a project by an agreed-upon deadline.
Although many benefits come with hiring freelancers, some downsides also exist, including the following:
Freelancers can work from home or anywhere with an internet connection. They’re not typically attached to a formal structure. This lack of formality may backfire when there’s no contract between a business and a freelancer. There’s no guarantee the freelancer will complete a project.
In a worst-case scenario, a freelancer can disappear in the middle of an assignment. While you can replace a freelancer, an abandoned project brings untold headaches.
Other freelancing risks include missed deadlines and low-quality work. Regardless of how much effort you put into finding the ideal freelancer, they may not meet your expectations. Even if they see a project through, they may submit subpar work and miss crucial milestones.
Vetting your freelancers is essential to avoid poor work output. Be sure to verify their references, and consider hiring them on a trial basis before assigning highly detailed work.
Freelancers often can’t depend on one client business as a source of stable income. They often have multiple clients, which means numerous projects and potentially conflicting deadlines.
You may hire a freelancer and have to deal with slow progress and a split focus. They may be unavailable when you need to discuss a project element – or they move your project to the bottom of their priority list.
While hiring a freelancer can be a quick process, finding the right freelancer with the necessary skills for a specific project can take time. An intensive freelancer interview and vetting process may not suit a business with an urgent project that requires a fast turnaround.
Seek out freelancers willing to build a relationship with your business. You’ll foster loyalty and connections that can strengthen your organization.
Numerous resources and best practices can help you find freelancers ideal for your needs. Consider the following advice:
In the past, freelancers were seen as inferior to full-time workers. However, this mindset has shifted, affording qualified professional freelancers the respect and opportunities they deserve. Businesses understand that freelancers can be a valuable addition to their teams, saving money and helping execute skills-based projects.
While hiring freelancers has advantages and disadvantages, these no-strings-attached professionals can help grow your business and strengthen your reputation. Just be sure to find the right freelancers to include on your team.