This is the golden age of entrepreneurship. Not only can many businesses ramp up and scale quickly through the use of web services, but hiring also has never been easier. That’s because the freelance revolution has changed how businesses hire workers—and made it much easier in the process.
More than 34 percent of all employees currently are freelance workers, and this total is expected to reach upwards of 50 percent by 2020, according to independent research firm, Edelman Berland.
Workers like freelance gigs because it offers flexibility and opportunities for additional pay. Businesses make out even better. Here are five reasons why.
1. Larger Talent Pool
With full- or part-time employees, the applicant pool is limited to those who can make large ongoing time commitments to a company, and often it is further limited to those who are geographically close to the company.
With freelance workers, however, businesses can pick and choose among a much larger worldwide pool of workers. These can be in-demand workers who have a few extra hours for work on the side, and those from anywhere in the world.
Because freelance workers are often hired on a project-basis, companies also can pick workers without the long-term commitment of bringing someone on for a long duration, and focus on workers with the right skills for the specific job instead of those who must perform a wide range of duties.
All this adds up to more choice, which leads to better hires.
2. Better Business Agility
By using freelance workers instead of staff, businesses are better able to adjust as market conditions change. Instead of being tied down by physical offices and relatively set roles and skillsets, freelancers allow businesses to add and adjust staffing quickly and easily.
Many businesses, led by innovative tech companies in Silicon Valley, have moved to a decentralized workforce of freelancers that are based around the world and virtually connected with platforms such as Trello, Asana and Basecamp. These virtual office environments enable businesses to stitch together freelancers as if they were on staff and on site in the same building.
Bringing cohesion to their distributed workforce and aiding communication, smart businesses also leverage integrated video chat systems such as Google-pioneered WebRTC for connecting freelancers into a team. WebRTC infrastructure firms are packaging these video capabilities into low cost services and products, and video communcation firms like Agora.io make it easy to incorporate video chat that works across any platform and data connection, important considerations for distributed workforces consisting of freelancers.
3. More Specialized Hiring
Jobs are getting more specialized. This would be a problem, were it not for the freelance revolution. Instead of hiring employees that can perform many tasks, businesses can use freelancers to make every worker a specialist for the given task. As needs change and other skills are needed, businesses just swap out one freelancer for another as needed.
For instance, instead of hiring a general marketing manager for email lists, content marketing, strategy, SEO, SEM and areas such as event planning, businesses can leverage several freelancers who each specialize in one area of the marketing mix.
4. Pay for Performance
Not only do freelancers enable better worker specialization, they also make it possible to hire only for current needs. This streamlines staffing.
A business that wants to improve its accounting system, for instance, can hire a freelancer to handle the project and pay for successful completion instead of having to retain an employee who must be fed enough work to warrant full- or part-time employment on an ongoing basis.
Human resources can be deployed much more effectively with freelance workers than through traditional staffing solutions.
5. Reduced Cost and Improved Productivity
While there are issues with oversight for telecommuting staff, this is not the case for freelance workers with contracts structured around performance and a virtual work environment. This can be a boon for businesses in terms of both cost and productivity.
Harvard Business Review has calculated that businesses save an average of $1,900 per employee or freelancer who works remotely. It also found that working remotely improves productivity. That’s because remote workers have fewer distractions.
The study by Harvard Business Review also found that remote workers were 50 percent less likely to quit than those who worked in the office. This reduced turnover also saves a business time and money.
Uber and Silicon Valley startups aren’t the only businesses that are taking advantage of freelance workers. Businesses in every industry in every part of the world are starting to catch on to the benefits of freelance labor, and your business should be one of them.
Freelance work benefits both workers and companies. For all but the lazy employee and the static company that makes the same products year after year in a mature market, freelance makes a lot of sense.
Authors: Peter Scott is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years. You can contact him at PeterEditorial@gmail.com.
JT Ripton is a freelance business and technology writer out of Tampa. He loves to write to inform, educate and provoke minds. Follow him on twitter @JTRipton