Reports from freelance jobs marketplace Upwork places a staggering 32% or 4.1 million of Australia's labour force as having done contract or short-term work across all industries from 2014-2015. The study reveals that flexibility and freedom are the key drivers why Australians are exchanging the traditional, full-time nine-to-five office setup in favour of a freelance lifestyle.
How can businesses take advantage of this trend?
Small businesses, in particular, are the ones who benefit the most from this trend as it's more convenient, speedier and cost-effective to hire freelance experts to get jobs done when there's no need for full-time employment. Moreover, when you're still just building a small business with little resources, it would do well for you to optimise those resources by getting the most out of what you can afford to pay for labour.
In certain businesses, there are peak and lull periods when workers alternate between beating deadlines and then relaxing with just administrative work to prepare for the next high season. In this case, recruiting consultants or freelancers during peak seasons with contracts lasting only until the lull period helps business owners save money in the long run.
If in Australia, freelancers make up one-third of the job market, there are certainly more of them from abroad for less cost in a remote jobs marketplace where location, space and time barriers have long been broken down with the advent of the Internet.
Reinforcing your organisation with freelancers, however, needs you to consider its differences from recruiting and managing employees. First of all are legal and tax requirements such as work contracts and meeting payment terms agreed upon. Talents will jump at the opportunity to work with you when you have a reputation for paying on time and according to their contracts.
This is followed closely by monitoring productivity to make sure you get the most value for what you're paying. You do this by defining roles and responsibilities clearly, establishing on-board rules such as daily check-ins and reporting, and often, by making use of time-productivity software.
In certain types of freelance jobs, however, you might also need to look beyond minimising labour costs and instead place more value in your talents' knowledge and expertise, skills and experience, and—the hardest to find among the younger workforce—professional ethics and working styles that are acceptable to you or meet your minimum requirements.
Building and maintaining a strong team of freelancers not only helps grow your business, but it may also serve as an efficient way to identify future trustworthy and dependable employees for the long haul. Freelancers, at least the ones within your locality, may decide to join your growing company at some point, and recruiting from this reliable stable of talents will save you more money and time by shortcutting your hiring process.