Are Freelancers Just a Temporary Solution? Myth Buster #2

Future of Work

by Levin Wense , 8 September 2021

It’s a fact that can’t be denied: more and more companies are choosing to hire a freelancer each year. In the last year only, the US workforce has seen a rise in 36% in workers performing freelance work - and hiring managers are taking note. According to Forbes, 73% of hiring managers have stated they plan to use more independent professionals in 2021.

A rise in hiring freelancers also means a rise in doubts and questions surrounding them. This is why we’ve started the Freelance Myth Buster series, where we address the myths and misconceptions that come along with hiring freelancers. One of these? Freelancers, particularly highly skilled ones, are usually only seen as a temporary solution to bridge a gap in skills and resources in your own company’s workforce.

While self-employed professionals certainly help in bridging this gap, they can be much more than a temporary solution. They can be a way to focus your teams’ current skills and resources on where it matters and keep highly skilled talent fresh and motivated throughout the years. Most importantly, independent professionals can help your company keep up with the breakneck speed of industry development, providing invaluable long-term benefits for your business.

A temporary professional agreement does not necessarily mean a temporary result or quick fix. Here’s why.

Help Your Team Focus Their Skills and Resources Where it Matters

Myth Buster 1

Article after article explaining why you should hire a freelancer contract shows that the main reason - after cutting costs - to hire an independent professional is to bridge the gap between your own resources and skills with those of a specialist. This is evident by 49% of hiring managers stating that access to highly skilled talent was their reason to use freelancers in 2020. This “highly skilled talent” can help beyond their own tasks: when done correctly, freelance talent can help increase the skill and resource gaps within your team.

Get your team on board with why the interim support is needed so they understand the value it will provide and to have them support the decision. Once your team is on board, you’ll find that freelancers can allow your team to move faster, increase productivity, and work more cost-effectively.

But how? Choosing the right independent professional or pool of freelancers will make sure that you have the perfect set of skills available within your team at the right time. Knowing the exact skill sets that complement your own workforce can play a huge part in longer-term benefits. With specialists covering the niche tasks that would otherwise side-track or delay the project, your team can instead focus on what they do best. This not only saves you time and money in the long run but also keeps morale high - your team will appreciate being able to focus on the tasks that matter to them.

These factors all assure that while the collaboration on the project might be temporary, the impact is not. A focused team, helped by freelancers, will improve the motivation of your workforce, reduce the risk of failure, and be more innovative.

Keep Highly Skilled Talent Engaged and Motivated

Myth Buster 2

Sometimes, a client or project will have reoccurring niche requirements outside those you can fulfill with your existing workforce. But, because these requirements aren’t consistent, hiring someone permanently is not always a choice. In these cases, hiring a freelancer is the best solution.

A self-employed professional who specializes in one activity doesn’t become a specialist in their field at random. Many times, freelancers will choose to freelance because they can work on different projects in an area that interests them. They tend to hone in on an area that they enjoy and that motivates them. When you’re hiring a freelancer, there must be a mutual fit.

If this freelancer connects with your team, enjoys the project, and delivers exceptional results, this can flourish into a strong work relationship. Sometimes this develops into a full-time contract or stays a freelancing agreement that spans over longer periods of time, depending on the situation. They can move from a temporary solution to a longer-term trusted partnership.

This type of business relationship is a win-win for all involved. Your independent professional will continue having the freedom and flexibility to pursue other projects, keeping them fresh and ready for when you work together again. On the other hand, you will have access to the knowledge and expertise of a motivated professional you can trust, only when needed.

Create a Liquid Workforce to Keep Up with the Breakneck Speed of the Times

Myth Buster 3

A pool of on-demand talent can be your long-term strategic solution to keeping up with the breakneck speeds your product, project, and industry will have as they evolve.

From hiring to training to benefits, permanent employees are an investment of your time and money. The requirements for roles constantly change throughout a product and project lifecycle, which means that the requirements for talent in your companies must keep up with these changes and adapt. Quickly. If adapting takes too long because of rapid change, then changing the people working on the product and project is more effective. As mentioned, this also makes your fixed talent happier because they end up working roles that they excel in, instead of spreading themselves thin in areas they don’t thrive.

A pool of freelancers can help solve this, especially in industries where moving fast and scaling dynamically are a must. The type of team and skill set that are needed when you begin building a digital product, versus what you will need after you’ve launched will look very different. This also accounts for any stage afterwards, from quickly scaling to when your product enters maturity.

40% of businesses have said that hiring highly skilled freelancers helped improve their speed to market, boost productivity, and increase innovation for their company, according to a study by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). And with talent-pairing platforms making it easier for companies to find the right professional to work with, hiring a freelancer has never been easier.

Hiring a Freelancer is Temporary by Definition, But It’s Not a Temporary Fix

By definition, hiring a freelancer will be temporary. Be it long- or short-term there must be a start and end date to the project agreed to. Otherwise, hiring and investing in a permanent employee would be more suitable.

But a temporary agreement does not mean that their impact on your company or that your work relationship is temporary too. Using freelance talent as a pool of talent or on an individual basis, in a strategic and considerate way, can be an integral part of your long-term strategy.

When done right, freelancers will have a long-term benefit to your product, workforce, and company.

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