When you think of the word ‘freelancer’, the following terms might come to mind: flexible work, gig economy, agility, and scalability. Freelancers provide your team with the ability to seamlessly scale workload up or down based on your project needs, increasing agility without burdening the bottom line.
Some companies — Catalant included — use experts and freelancers consistently for extended periods of time. Initially, this may strike you as antithetical to the purpose of working with freelancers. Your company is, after all, taking a continuous hit to the bottom line without actually acquiring new talent.
Yet, accessing this talent through an ongoing bench of freelancers allows you to flex hours and specialties, find the best talent, and maximize cross-functional collaboration. Indefinite freelance engagements give your team unique flexibility; just because a need is ongoing doesn’t mean that it fits the full-time mold.
So, when does it make sense to work with freelancers on extended projects?
1. When you need to flex hours and skills sets
Full-time employees are guaranteed a certain salary or hours per week, attaching a fixed cost to your annual budget. Yet as projects, market demands, and strategic priorities continually change for your business, a given skill set will likely not be needed for a consistent amount of work every pay period.
By working with a freelancer you can have continuity within the relationship, allowing them to learn your business and provide reliable availability, without being locked into a set contract. Furthermore, if you work with a bench of talent rather than a single individual you can flex each freelancer’s hours to optimize the mix of skill sets utilized a given time period. In this way, you can effectively fill the hours that may fit into one role across multiple unique workers, creating a more diverse and capable compilation.
2. When you’re having trouble finding the best talent
As freelancing and alternative working arrangements are becoming increasingly viable, top talent is moving away from traditional roles. Furthermore, since top talent often possesses unique skill sets, they are disproportionately making this shift.
By working with freelancers, you are able to find the best talent without the barriers of full-time availability, geographic location, or other artificial boundaries. If you’re having trouble finding and attracting top talent to work internally, independent experts can provide specialized talent without the constraints of a full-time contract.
3. When you need to work cross-functionally and haven’t built an agile workforce
It is becoming increasingly common knowledge that workforce agility facilitates innovation, efficiency, and even retention, making it a strategic priority for C-Suite leaders. Ideally, you will have a fully agile workforce which enables your workers to seamlessly collaborate, breaking down functional silos and forming teams on the basis of project needs.
If your organization is not yet agile, however, those on other teams may have separate timelines, priorities and KPIs to your own. This makes it difficult to collaborate, but freelance talent can allow you to access different functional knowledge without having to fight bureaucratic boundaries. As a bonus, your successful cross-functional work with freelancers will further prove the value of agility to senior leadership!
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Ultimately, using freelance talent instead of artificially fitting a full-time position into an open need makes sense. Freelancers provide top talent and flexibility, on demand. Instead of asking ‘why’ you should hire them, the better question is: ‘why not?’
If you’re ready to find an independent expert for your next project, create a free account in our Expert Marketplace.