Three misconceptions about freelancers dispelled

leestijd: 3min | #businesses #working with freelancers | 26 February 2019 | Daan De Bock

While the GIG economy continues to grow strongly and there have never been so many freelancers (157 000) setting to work in Flanders, we have noticed that many organisations are still a bit hesitant to hire freelancers. This is completely unnecessary in our opinion, because freelancers comprise above all, opportunities for future growth. High time to straighten out the three most persistent misconceptions about freelancers:

1) Hiring a freelancer is expensive

You can’t blame businesses for thinking this. An hourly rate of 50 euros hardly sounds like a bargain. But it really is! To illustrate:

1.1 No social security contributions

First of all, business owners tend to forget that they will not be required to pay a freelancer’s social insurance contributions. These are expenses that do have to pay for their permanent staff, on top of their wages. Taking that into consideration, you could actually hire more flexible workers for the wages you pay to only one permanent employee.

1.2 Plug and play

Secondly, the plug and play principle according to which a freelancer works ensure that the client only has to pay for hours actually worked. ‘What you pay is what you get.’ This means that a number of financial obligations, such as holiday allowance or having to keep paying someone’s wages even when they are on sick leave, no longer apply. A freelancer organises the systematics of his/her project completely autonomously and schedules his/her own holidays. Continued payment of wages during sick leave is not included in a contract between a client and a freelancer. The government provides freelancers who have taken ill with an allowance after a specific waiting period has expired.

1.3 Cost savings

Lastly, a freelancer has the skills and experience needed for the job. The time-consuming and expensive procedure of training employees can be circumvented by hiring an experienced freelancer. In addition to the price of a training course, you will also need to pay a permanent employee’s wages while this person is in training instead of working for you. This should not be construed as a reason to refrain from training your employees – which is of paramount importance – but cultivating expertise is a long and slow process that takes time to develop. And that is exactly the nub of the matter for the business community. There is not always enough time to wait for expertise to develop. That is why outsourcing very specific projects afford businesses a realistic solution. Outsourcing means saving time, not skimping on quality.

It is important to remember that although hiring a freelancer may bring additional expenses with it, you will actually be saving lots of money. You may not consider it a bargain, but it is certainly not a pig in a poke.

2) A freelancer can’t be trusted

While we in Flanders are developing more and more in the direction of open company models, Flemish SMEs still harbour a great deal of distrust towards freelancers. This distrust is manifested in the following areas:

  • Confidentiality
  • Trust

2.1 Confidentiality

You will not need to grant a freelancer access to confidential information in many cases. Digital marketers have access to a company’s social media passwords, for example, and HR managers have all the payroll data at their fingertips, from that of senior executives to blue-collar workers. Sensitive information that cannot leave the company premises. Fortunately, there are legal documents that offer a perfect solution. A Non-Disclosure Agreement ensures that confidential information can be identified in a highly specific manner. This way, a client can be assured that his corporate information is in good hands.

2.2 Trust

The fact that a freelancer often works from home and there is, therefore, no way to check up on what he/she is doing may give rise to suspicion. The control we have over our permanent employees is, of course, lacking when it comes to freelancers. Aside from this, employers often encounter difficulty judging the quality of a freelancer’s work, particularly in those cases where highly specific expertise is involved. It is not always easy to arrive at an objective assessment. Therefore, we recommend setting down clear agreements with a view to ensuring transparency. There are plenty of applications available online to create more transparency in work situations. These project management tools can give an employer more insight into the progress of a project. However, clear communication remains of paramount importance. Defining precise expectations and setting clear targets is a must.

3) A freelancer will never become a bona fide member of my team

It is unfortunate that freelancers are often considered, above all, as mere ‘suppliers’. They never get to see that great onboarding policy that was developed for the company’s permanent employees. However, it remains important for freelancers to experience a sense of social connection with the organisation in order for your collaboration with them to be successful. The induction of a freelancer is a responsibility that has to be borne by both parties. When given the right support, we have noticed that freelancers really do start to become part of a team, even if this is only temporarily. Admittedly, due to the temporary nature of a freelancer’s position, a little distance will always be maintained between both parties. But that also has its advantages. In the words of GIGHOUSE freelancer Katrien Tordeur in our blogpost:

’Strong ties with co-workers aren’t important to me, which is not unusual in the world of HR. As an HR manager, you normally aren’t included in the WhatsApp group through which your co-workers spread the latest gossip.’”

As an outsider, a freelancer has an important function with regard to picking up on important signals within the organisation. Ingrained habits are difficult for permanent employees to identify. A freelancer who has only worked at an organisation briefly sees things from an unbiased perspective and can make choices more objectively. Taking this into account, ‘not really being part of a team’ is certainly not negative.

We hope that we were able to dispel some of these misconceptions. If not, GIGHOUSE will continue to pave the way more smoothly for freelancers in the future.

Hiring a freelancer?

Are you looking for a flexible solution for your business? GIGHOUSE subjects its freelancers to a thorough screening process and quickly matches the right freelancer to the right job, in which we take into account important aspects such as competencies and a cultural fit. Interested in a smooth collaboration with freelancers? GIGHOUSE will get you started, quickly and easily.

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