Employing on-demand experts and remote workers is much more widely accepted than in the recent past. The globalization of markets, the rapidly emerging gig economy and technology-fueled trends in the workplace have established remote individuals and teams as a key element of success in business.
However, certain assumptions persist about the supposed shortcomings that come with employing on-demand experts and others who work on a remote, off-site basis. This is unfortunate since a closer look at these misconceptions reveals just how beneficial such working relationships can be for your business.
Here’s a quick look at six common misconceptions and the truth behind them.
1. Independent Experts Can’t Help My Particular Business
Many business owners still view the contributions of independent experts as a resource with no application to their particular companies. In fact, businesses are increasingly using the gig economy to supplement their own teams in a wide array of operational and strategic areas, including:
- Primary research
- Business plan development
- Data analysis
- Pricing and promotional strategy
- Supply chain management
- Software development
These and related areas often require specialized skills, which may or may not be available among a company’s workforce. Having access to a core group of experts dramatically expands the range of what can be achieved.
2. Remote Workers Aren’t as Productive as On-Site Employees
In some quarters, the belief lingers that people won’t work hard unless a boss is breathing down their necks. On the other hand, growing numbers of remote employees and independent experts feel their productivity increases significantly once they’re freed from common workplace distractions. These distractions include being bombarded by texts and emails employees feel they can’t ignore (as opposed to a remote worker with the ability to be more selective about when they check messages) as well as work interruptions due to meetings, office birthday parties, etc.
Of course, much depends on selecting the right type of person to fill your on-demand needs. The best individuals bring experience, specialized skills, dedication to projects and reliability to the tasks at hand. “Focusing on someone sitting in a chair at your office for 40 hours a week is the wrong metric. Instead, focus on input,” notes Inc.
3. Off-site Workers Lose Touch With What’s Going On
In the earliest days of telecommuting and remote work arrangements, there was justifiable concern regarding how well a person working off-site could stay “up to speed” with what was happening in the workplace.
Advances in communications technology have all but eliminated this concern. From emails and instant messaging to video conferencing, online collaboration apps and other resources, there’s really no way to fall out of touch with the main office. Furthermore, independent experts depend on regular communications with their clients.
In many cases, clients and experts stay in contact through a secure, centralized platform where they track key milestones, upload and review relevant documents, invite others on the team to provide input and share final deliverables with the team.
4. It Costs More to Hire Independent Experts
Lacking sufficient information, some business owners may think the costs of bringing in an on-demand expert outweigh the potential benefits. A closer look at what’s not necessary in such a work arrangement quickly demonstrates that the opposite is true.
Expenses incurred by maintaining an onsite workforce include all overhead-related costs – office space, supplies, maintenance, onsite amenities, equipment purchase and maintenance, and so on.
Then there’s the expenses involved in employees taking sick days, or missing crucial deadlines due to other causes. On-demand workers and experts commit to meeting project deadlines, without any delays incurred by personal issues.
5. Company Data Isn’t Secure With On-Demand Experts
In an era that seems rampant with cybertheft, business owners are justifiably concerned about sharing information with workers outside of their companies. But security-conscious independent workers (and the companies that hire them) utilize two-factor authentication, VPNs and other measures that sharply reduce the dangers of data theft. Also, up-to-date cloud applications enable encrypted information to be conveniently shared between home base and remote locations.
6. Leveraging Independent Experts Can Negatively Impact Company Culture
Employing on-demand workers is certainly different than managing a team of employees situated “under one roof.” But a healthy company culture doesn’t rely upon an individual’s physical presence to be effective. Businesses seeing advantages in on-demand work opportunities focus instead on engaging these individuals through advanced communications (so they feel and act as part of the team, regardless of location) and by actively including them in culture-building activities — all-staff meetings, conference calls, etc.
As the business world continues to evolve, with more companies leveraging the advantages of the gig economy, these and similar misconceptions about on-demand talent will fall away. The competitive advantages of independent experts will become the deciding factor in making use of this resource for future business growth.
The Catalant platform can help you increase your workplace agility and find the right talent, at the right time, for your need. Browse through the interactive experience highlighting some of our Industry Experts to learn more about the people behind the projects.