Online freelancing is a big thing.
Upwork (formerly oDesk) has grown by around 100% each year for the last 6 years. Freelancer.com has completed over 4.1 million projects. So is freelancing the future of work? Do you see a future where everyone is working as a freelancer for several different employers?
For businesses, freelancing has some major upsides:
- It’s cheap
- Freelancers are completely flexible
- No training and development costs
- You are often paying for accomplished results rather than an hourly rate, so you have more accountability of results produced versus the amount paid.
Ok, so perhaps you should run your entire business using freelancers and contract workers and never hire a full-time person again?
However I’ve discovered in hiring freelancers and full-time staff, that there is a downside to freelancing…
How long does it take a new employee to get up to speed?
If you hire an employee in your company, do you expect them to be amazingly productive in their first week? Usually the first week is just about getting orientated to the job. Learning about your business, how everything works, learning the systems and procedures and getting to know the people.
So what happens when you hire a freelancer for a 1 week contract? In some cases this can work well. If it’s something where they are highly skilled in that area, and it’s a one-time job that you need them to complete.
In fact it’s perfect for this type of situation. Examples could include: designing a logo for your website, creating a new animated video, proofreading a book or creating a one-time voice-over.
Can freelancers RUN your business?
I would argue that they cannot. You need someone who is totally dedicated to you. Someone working only for you and following your systems and procedures. A person who is a part of building your company.
The downsides of contract work and freelancing
- It does not provide a completely reliable and dependable income for the freelancer. They need to constantly look for more work.
- The freelancer or part time worker is not totally committed to the company. They have other commitments, other jobs that can sometimes take priority.
- It does not provide enough time for trust to develop between employer and employee, and so the speed of execution and the ability to get things done is hampered by a lack of trust.
- Most importantly that the freelancer is not able to spend the time to understand the business, to get involved in being an integral part of the company.
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