Illustration by: Iva Divic

Why freelancers can help your business overcome an economic crisis

It would be an understatement to say we’re going through turbulent changes. The world is upside down since the pandemic hit, and together with a global health and safety crisis, we are also confronted with an economic crisis. As we are facing a much more devastating second wave of coronavirus cases globally, the economy keeps slowing down and businesses are facing a harsh reality of revenue decreases.

The future doesn’t look bright, and we won’t be wearing shades any time soon. However, before we let ourselves fall entirely into despair, let’s approach the problem from another perspective. What businesses need now is an alternative in collaboration workflow while pivoting through the change without losing too much money and time. Here is where an interesting shift is happening. A shift towards a flexible and skilled freelance workforce ready to support business in an agile and dynamic way.

“The biggest advantage of freelancers is that they work on-demand”

Over the past years, more and more companies became open to the idea of hiring freelancers. This “trend” grew into something more than just a temporary tendency – today the freelance economy offers a proactive solution for companies to overcome the crisis.

Reading more about the freelance economy and its evolution amid the pandemic, I came across an interesting article by an author and HR thought leader, Jon Younger. In his Forbes piece titled “COVID 19 Is Likely To Give Freelancing A Major Growth Spurt”, he states how ‘companies will recruit more and more freelancers because they are cost-efficient and offer critical skill sets that are a great response to the broken supply chains, skills gaps and digital transformation requirements caused by the pandemic’.

This statement struck a chord with me, and I reached out to Dr Younger to ask him what are the advantages of hiring a freelancer in today’s unstable economic circumstances.

Jon started our conversation offering “There are several scenarios where it’s beneficial for managers to hire a freelancer. The most significant advantage of freelancers is that they work on-demand. Sometimes businesses need help periodically and hiring a full-time person would be too expensive for the organisation”.

Indeed, being an on-demand workforce might be the strongest value point for freelancers today. If you see your team needs support only now and then, it’s easier and cheaper to collaborate with a freelancer.

“Another case is where you are looking for high-level talent, but you can’t afford to hire them because of the salary they require, the cost of relocation, or the difficulty of finding someone on a full-time basis with the specific skills and experience you require.” So, if you have a clear idea of the skills you need, but that profile is extremely hard to find, a freelancer may be a good alternative.”

A big change for many businesses is the COVID 19 driven shift to remote working. “Managers and employees now feel more confident that remote working can be equally, if not more productive. If your workflow is built in the right way, then remote teams can deliver outstanding results,” explains Jon. For most freelancers working remotely is business-as-usual, and considering they already know the best practices, they can help the in-house team members achieve better and easier collaboration.

“Some projects need to be delivered as soon as possible, and managers want to avoid losing time on the hiring process, administration, etc. Hiring a freelancer is far more likely to produce the skills you need more quickly,” Jon explains. “Lastly, if you are looking to expand your product or service, a freelancer can often provide a fresh perspective, especially if they bring experience from a different background and industry,” he concludes.

The question is not if you should hire a freelancer, but when

Let’s take a look at some other possible situations where you should consider hiring a freelancer over a full-time employee:

1. You are at an early phase with your startup

By hiring a freelancer, you avoid the cost of hiring a full-time employee, and you are not obligated to maintain a long-lasting work relationship. Let’s not forget the crucial aspect of bringing their knowledge, expertise and experience to the table!

2. Your employee left the company, and you are looking for a new hire

Employees come and go, but you don’t have to despair who will continue their work or when will you find a replacement – get a freelancer to continue working where your ex-employee left off and focus on taking time to find the person who is the right fit for your company.

3. Your employee temporarily left the company

If you are in the situation where your employee wants to take some time off because of pregnancy, maternity leave, sickness, sabbatical, etc., now is the right time to find a freelancer to substitute him/her! The best part is that the freelancer can give you another perspective on the work that is assigned to them, and even expand the role itself.

4. Your company needs rebranding/change in strategy/invent a new product or service

If your company is shifting the offer and going through core changes, it’s beneficial to hire a consultant who can guide you and your team through the necessary steps. Sometimes your team can get caught up in a roller coaster of a project that it gets hard to see the overall picture objectively.

5. You are forced to downsize your team because of crisis, but you have to keep the business running

During a crisis, the future is – by definition – uncertain. You have to act now. By hiring a freelancer, you already hire a person with a necessary set of skills. And by hiring a freelancer with different skills, you can rest assured they will be able to help you in different areas!

6. You want to organise specific training/workshops/brainstorming sessions for your team

There is immense potential hiding in hiring a freelancer to train your team on a specific topic or someone who can guide a brainstorming session. A freelancer you already work with can share their knowledge about their expertise with the entire team.

The future of the workforce is agile

The question many business owners face now is how fast they can adapt to the changes. By being innovative, proactive and reaching out for unorthodox solutions, a business can thrive – even in difficult times like these.

Technology has made it easier for business owners and managers to connect with a pool of talented freelancers across the globe. With the surge of platforms like Upwork, Fivver, and Freelance there is an option for everyone, depending on your budget, time and skills requirements.

If you’re a business owner or a manager, ask yourself why you are doubting whether you should hire a freelancer. Sure, they do not replace full-time employees as such, but together with full-time employees, they create a flexible, cost-efficient and on-demand workforce of the future. Hiring freelancers to sustain your business during a crisis is not only a tactical move but a necessary one.

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Iva Divic

Iva Divic

(Still) Working on the first book of poetry. And hoping by the time it's published, the pandemic will be over and I can hug all my friends at once.