Freelancing is becoming more common in the fast-paced economy, with surveys showing freelancers made up 35% of the U.S. workforce in 2016. With this increase in freelancing, stable, full-time employees are becoming less common, but it is important for employers to know the advantages and disadvantages of freelancers before making the switch.
With the freelance economy growing, freelancers offer many advantages to companies.
Freelancers cost less than full-time employees. The freelance economy is extremely competitive, forcing many freelancers to lower their rates to get ahead of the competition, which allows companies to hire qualified workers for less than a full-time employee’s salary. Also, because freelancers work on an as-needed basis, they do not qualify to receive company health benefits that a full-time employee would, saving the company in insurance expenses.
Freelancers can also get more work done, faster. Freelancers typically work project-by-project, allowing them to devote all of their time to a project, which results in a better quality output in a much shorter amount of time. Freelancers make a living through repeated work, which means that their quality of work is higher because they want to be hired again for future jobs.
Freelancers hold a variety of skills, which allow them to complete many different tasks. The variety of tasks that individual freelancers are able to take on prevents companies from having to hire a different full-time employee for each task individually.
Freelancers also do not take up space in already crowded office buildings, as they work remotely, freeing up space for companies that do not have enough rooms to give every individual employee their own office.
Freelancers mostly work remotely, so employers are not limited to the local workforce. Employers can find the best freelancer to fit their needs without worrying too much about location. Also, freelancers are not as permanent as full-time employees, so if employers realize that a freelancer is not working out as they had hoped then they can simply hire a new freelancer without all of the paperwork.
Freelancers also come with their own networks of connections and resources, which can help employers source more work freelancers for future work.
Despite their advantages, freelancers do still come with many disadvantages.
Freelancers are loyal to the whatever will make them the most money, so they come with little to no loyalty to an individual company. When a freelancer is hired, they complete a contract to finish the one or many jobs agreed upon, but at the end of that contract if a better deal becomes available then they will go where the money is. Companies often like to hire the same freelancers on a consistent basis because they know that rates will stay constant and the quality of work can only improve. That being said, for companies with that expectation of loyalty from their freelancers, they may want to look into extended contracts with competitive rates to prevent having to start fresh every time they need a job completed.
Freelancers require employers to take a big risk at first. Companies often hire freelancers after simply reading their resume and looking at select work samples, which is not a very good way to measure someone’s ability to complete the task at hand. Potential employees often pick their all-time best work to show prospective employers instead of their most recent, which is not representative of what they are capable of producing at that time. With all that in mind, companies have to take a risk hiring freelancers, hoping that they will be able to make high-quality products that the fit the company’s needs.
Freelancers are independent workers, which means that employers have little control over them beyond the contract. Freelancers do what the contract asks in the time frame discussed, but that is the only control that employers have over them. If employers decide they want something changed or added, freelancers charge extra for each individual thing, while a regular employee would just make the additions.
Freelancers can be great assets to help companies accomplish more than they would normally be able to. However, employers need to consider all of the pros and cons to decide what is best for their company before making the switch from full-time to freelance.