The benefits of freelancing for the individual contractor are readily apparent. From flexible schedules to choosing their projects, diversifying their income, and working from home, the freelancer’s life is in many ways an employee’s dream come true.
How Independent Contractors Help Businesses
Why are so many companies turning to contractors to solve their problems? It turns out that there are quite a few different factors creating this massive migration from the traditional workspace. From technology to benefits and everything in between, here are some of the top reasons the modern gig economy is inspiring companies to hire freelancers hand over fist.
Counting the Costs
One of the top causes for modern companies to shift their plans to include the gig economy revolves around that age-old driver of change in business: costs. In recent years the expenses involved with hiring full-time workers have continued to skyrocket. At this point, the laundry list of benefits that companies are expected to offer has grown to include things like health insurance premiums, 401K matching and other retirement plan costs, paid vacation, sick leave, child care, and so on. Typical freelancers require none of these costs.
Nowhere is the benefit of saved costs felt more keenly than in the small business world. When your total workforce is dozens of employees and at times even smaller than that, it can be hard to justify an entire year’s worth of wages and a full benefits package all simply because you need to address marketing, writing, social media, or some other specific, skill-dependent need. Contractors can fill the gap at a fraction of the price.
A Remote Workspace World
Another major cost that goes out the window in many freelancing situations is the need for a huge physical location. When Kodak was a 60,000 person company, during its heyday, it literally was Rochester, New York. The company sprawled across the city, absorbing acres upon acres of real estate for its workers.
In the modern era, this need for large workspaces has evaporated, largely thanks to the gig economy. Freelancers are famously known for working from home (and even from bed at times) without the need to ever get dressed up in that suit and tie or head to a company meeting.
Instead, modern technology has opened the doors for the new phenomenon of the remote workspace. Trello, Asana, Skype, Google Hangouts, PayPal, Google Docs, and so many other applications have streamlined the online experience, allowing companies to communicate, create workspaces, and collaborate on projects without ever stepping foot into a commercial space. It goes without saying that the saved costs of needing smaller offices to house a company’s full-time workforce are significant.
Quality Skills Like No Other
Another excellent benefit of the freelance workforce is the fact that it allows a company to tailor its plans in ways that were much more difficult to achieve in the past. Traditionally an enterprise needed to create full-blown departments and teams to address things like marketing, product development, writing, and so on. If they couldn’t do that, they might outsource the solution by hiring an outside firm.
With the gig economy, though, a company can affordably bring in experts with very specific skill sets that meet their needs. In addition, they don’t need to change firms in order to address individual issues in performance. A simple addition or replacement of a single contractor can often meet a need, shoring up a team or answering a problem without upending an entire department in the process.
Freelancers Are Easy to Find
Another modern trend that has made the freelance world much more inviting is the ability to find workers with the skill set required. Modern technology has created the ability for many sites to create online platforms where freelancers and companies come together in a smorgasbord that connects skills with needs with a precision never dreamed of.
As a side note, while finding independent contractors can be quite easy these days, you still want to look into each freelancer you consider hiring. Utilize tools like social media background checks, any available reviews and referrals, as well as portfolios to gauge their authenticity and proficiency beyond any (potentially hollow) claims of excellence. One of the best ways to try a freelancer out is to offer them a paid trial. This allows them the satisfaction of compensation for their work while also allowing your company to opt out of the situation if you find their work doesn’t meet your current needs.
Finally, freelancers are not just skilled, they're also typically hard workers. Without that salary “safety net,” they generally prove their worth in terms of both quality and quantity. Many companies find freelancers well worth every penny, as their average output tends to be impressively high.
Empowering Businesses on a Global Scale
While there are certainly downsides to the gig economy, there can be no doubt that it is having an overwhelmingly positive impact on businesses worldwide. From lowering costs and physical workspace requirements to increased output and easy access to quality skills, the benefits of companies relying on independent contractors are sure to enable the continued growth of the freelancer movement for the foreseeable future.