Running a business is the sum of thousands of decisions you make every single day. Should you expand your workforce? Should you be focusing on a different target audience to expand sales? All of these questions and so many more are constantly swirling in the minds of executives.
One of the most important questions that managers and executives must ask on a daily basis is whether to hire a full-time employee to complete additional work or to hire a freelancer. There are certainly a variety of pros and cons to thoroughly consider before making a final decision. By being informed on the topic, those in charge maximize the chances of making the right decision for the company. So what are the biggest negatives and positives of hiring freelancers for your business?
CON: Security concerns can quickly arise
When you’re hiring a freelancer, there is a good chance that a majority of their work will be done outside of the confines of your office. In fact, more and more freelancers are working from home due to the flexibility of working hours and lack of a need for potentially expensive office space.
While this can be an obvious benefit, it can also pose some serious security risks for businesses with either sensitive or proprietary information. While many companies require freelances to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), this is sometimes still not enough to keep private information out of the wrong hands if the freelancer is not properly protected online.
To combat this, employers should encourage freelancers to utilize a VPN to ensure that their network is secure and no information can be compromised. VPN’s like Surfshark allow freelancers to work worry-free with any and all information that a company must provide in order to get the job done. This way, the freelancer can work on their own network or even on a public network without fear of sensitive company information being compromised.
CON: Communication disconnects
Regular employees are in front of their manager or other superior almost every day of the week. This allows managers to keep the team on task and quickly answer any questions that they may have about their current project.
With freelancers, they often work outside of the office and can at times be hard to reach. This means that updates managers may have can fail to reach the freelancer in a timely manner. This can cause confusion and ultimately push back the final timeline of a project. Additionally, because freelancers tend to work on their own schedule, managers may not be available to answer questions for them as they are working through a complicated project.
This means that the freelancer will have to remain idle until the following business day when the manager can properly answer the question. While it is not impossible to communicate effectively with a freelance worker, communication disconnects can quickly lead to a plethora of problems that would not have happened had an internal employee taken on this specific project.
CON: Uncommon training protocols
Two businesses which make the exact same product or even provide the exact same service may have two very different ways of conducting business. This can quickly become confusing for freelance workers who specialize in one line of work.
If the training protocols are severely different from company to company, this may dissuade freelancers to work for other businesses. They are paid based on their ability to complete many different tasks for a variety of employers and may not want to waste time learning an entirely new system or way of doing things.
To combat this, employers can ask freelance workers what their former experience in this field is and can attempt to find ways to accommodate them. Unfortunately, there may be cases where freelancers are seemingly “stuck in their ways” and have an extremely hard time adapting to a new way of doing things. This can quickly lead to a toxic work environment between employer and freelancer which becomes especially difficult when an employer has signed on to a contract which guarantees payment to the freelancer.
CON: You may not be the only person they are working for
When you hire a full-time employee, odds are, you’re the only person that they are working for. This means that you get their full attention and their work is not divided among multiple parties. The same cannot be said for freelance workers.
Freelance workers often make a living by accepting jobs from a variety of sources. This means that they often have to split their time and efforts among many different parties. Unfortunately, they will most likely pay the most attention to the person who is paying them the most.
This can mean that the timeline by which they complete work can be pushed back and in the most extreme cases their quality of work can also suffer. Because a freelance worker does not have as much of an interest in seeing your company succeed, they are not always as reliable as a full-time employee whose ability to get a raise or a promotion is directly correlated to their effort and the overall success of the company.
CON: Lack of employer oversight
When an employer is unable to frequently check in with a freelance worker, there is an increased chance that the final product will not be exactly what they were looking for. There are some projects that simply need a face to face meeting to complete as opposed to more regular email exchanges.
This lack of oversight can end up costing a company even more money over time if the freelance worker has to continuously go back and make changes to the project. This is especially true if the freelancer is hired on an hourly basis. Having the same level of oversight with a freelancer is next to impossible compared to that of a full-time employee which is one of the major drawbacks for employers.
This can be combated by clearly defining what is expected of the freelance worker in the form of frequent check-ins and progress reports at the very beginning of their business relationship. This will minimize the chances of an employer missing something over time.
PRO: Saving the company money
Freelancers are typically paid for single projects instead of being on the full-time payroll like a regular employee. This means that employers are only paying the freelancer for a short period of time as opposed to giving them an annual salary.
Additionally, there are a variety of other savings that employers get when outsourcing certain work to freelancers. These include things like health insurance, retirement plan benefits, and office supplies. Because freelancers are not full-time employees, employers are not required to provide any of these additional services to them which saves them even more on top of the reduced salary. Over time, the strategic use of freelance workers at a company can have a seriously positive impact on the company’s bottom line.
PRO: Finding experts on a particular topic
Especially when starting a new business, there are many tasks that are extremely complicated but may only need to be done once. This is the perfect example of a time when it may make more sense to hire a freelance worker with these specific set of skills as opposed to either making someone internally struggle through the process or hiring a new full-time employee just for a single task that may never need to be completed again.
A great example of this is website design and optimization. Web design requires very specific training that not many individuals have. Luckily, you have the ability to hire a freelance web designer to create a professional and respectable website for your new business.
Then, once the groundwork has been laid, you can have a full-time employee maintain and add to the website. It is far easier to build upon an existing platform than it is to build a brand new platform from the ground up.
PRO: Utilizing less office space
One of the greatest benefits of hiring freelance workers as opposed to bringing in someone to be a full-time employee is that you don’t need to find additional office spaces. Not only does this solve a potential logistical nightmare, but it can also save a great deal of money in lease payments over time.
This is because as employers hire more full-time employees, they will require bigger office spaces. Because commercial property owners typically charge monthly leases based on square footage, this can end up being a massive cost-cutting tactic over time.
This is especially true when a company is based in the heart of a larger city where leases can quickly skyrocket to unreasonable levels. Freelancers always provide their own office spaces as well as their own office supplies which means that the only additional cost for employers is the agreed-upon salary which can be accounted for well in advance by the finance team.
PR: Building a team to be called upon at a later date
Freelancers all usually have their specific specialty to complete even the most difficult tasks. So, if you are willing to take the time to properly vet freelance candidates, you can quickly develop a relationship with some of the most talented people in the industry.
A team of freelancers can be thought of as a super team with very specific and unique sets of skills. The biggest upside of this is that you can call upon them at any time to complete a project without having to keep them on the full-time payroll. This way, you are maximizing the output of your full-time employees while also getting specialized projects completed in a timely fashion without interrupting the day to day operations.
PRO: Time-of-work flexibility
More and more businesses are figuring out that not all workers, whether full time or freelancer, operate most effectively during a normal 9 to 5 business day. In fact, this is what has led thousands of former full-time employees to make the jump over to exclusively freelance work.
They have quickly realized that they are most effective either very early in the morning before businesses open or later at night long after they have closed up shop for the day. This is a major benefit to those employing freelancers because you know that the work you are receiving was completed during the hours that they are most efficient with their work.
Additionally, when freelancers work outside of the hours of the company hiring them, there will always be completed work for the company upon their arrival the next day. This allows managers to immediately start the day by implementing the completed work waiting for them in their inbox first thing in the morning.
Assuming the freelancer is reliable, managers no longer have to worry about the project they have outsourced. This way, they can focus on more pressing matters in the office and continue to drive the company forward.
Businesses who are seeking to hire a freelance worker must conduct a very careful and thorough cost-benefit analysis to see if the decision to hire additional full-time employees or to hire a freelancer is the right decision at this time.
Businesses change and evolve over time so it is important to revisit the decision every time an addition to the workforce is required. Just because a freelancer wasn’t right for your business six months ago does not mean that one is not right for your business today.
By properly weighing the potential pros and cons of hiring a freelance worker for your business, you will be able to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of the entire company.