Businesses that want to stay relevant and in touch with how people want to work in the 21st century need a strategy to take full advantage of the freelance workforce.
Freelancing is becoming more common and widely accepted with each passing year, as individuals and organizations alike realize the benefits to be gained from a flexible, agile approach to work.
Any organization can position itself at the forefront of this revolution in the world of work by tracking trends, identifying the benefits it wants to achieve and adopting a dedicated freelancer management system (FMS).
Freelancing on the rise
Various factors have come together to facilitate a significant increase in freelance working in recent years.
One of the key drivers of the trend is the ongoing evolution of mobile technology, which has made it possible for an increasing number of people in various lines of work to do their jobs from anywhere. Tech innovations like cloud computing and storage have also made it easier for businesses to make crucial applications and data available to a wider range of workers.
Another significant contributor to the growth of freelancing is a growing desire among many people to take control of their careers and work-life balance.
According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, job control is one of the "overlooked essentials of employee wellbeing".
In the US alone, there are now 57 million people in the freelance economy, according to the 2019 Freelancing in America study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union.
Just over half (51%) of the workers surveyed for the research said no amount of money would entice them back to a traditional job, mainly because they wouldn't want to give up their flexibility and the ability to live and work wherever they choose.
The study also shows that freelance income contributes nearly $1 trillion to the American economy - almost 5% of total US GDP.
The business benefits of hiring freelancers
Another key factor in the rise of freelancing is the increasing willingness of businesses to use this sort of labor, owing to the various benefits they stand to gain from it.
Here are some of the most compelling advantages of using freelance talent:
1. Lower costs
Hiring permanent staff means taking on costs like providing a workspace, onboarding, training and paid sick leave. Working with remote, experienced freelancers can eliminate many of these expenses.
If your labor requirements fluctuate at different times of the year, or from project to project, the freelance market could be the best place to find the skills you need, when you need them. It's a more flexible and adaptable approach than recruiting permanent employees.
3. Access to talent
Many businesses are struggling to find the talented professionals they need right now. The most successful freelancers reach their position by finding a niche, developing a distinct skillset and consistently demonstrating their capabilities over time. When you have a specific and possibly short-term talent requirement - for example, web design expertise for a website relaunch - using freelance labor could prove quicker, easier and more affordable than a permanent hire.
If you're sold on the benefits and plan to increase your use of flexible labor, introducing an FMS can help you achieve the best possible results. But how do you find the right system?
Choosing the right freelancer management system (FMS)
A good FMS will help you optimize your freelancer management and maximize efficiency. It gives you a single location where you can oversee every element of your freelancer relationships, from sourcing and onboarding to project management and payment.
When finding a platform that’ll work best for you, it's worth giving some thought to the most important jobs you want the system to do and the key benefits you hope to get from it.
Before you make a decision, consider evaluating each FMS by asking questions like:
- What key features and advantages does it offer that you can't get from basic tools like spreadsheets?
- How does the platform help you scale up or down your freelance talent pool?
- Will the system make it easier for you to find the talent you need?
- What security features does it have and how does it mitigate risks like data loss?
- Will the software simplify the task of staying in compliance with personal data regulations like the CCPA in the US and GDPR in the EU?
- What dedicated tools does the system provide to facilitate freelancer project management?
- Will it save you time by enabling automation of financial workflows and payments?
- Can the software be integrated with third-party applications?
- Does the provider have a strong reputation for helping and supporting its clients?
If you get satisfactory answers when asking these questions of a particular FMS, there's a good chance you've found the right system to optimize your freelancer management. This could be a vital step on your way to taking full advantage of the revolution underway in the world of work.