January 13, 2016
Nearly one in four employees freelance in some capacity, a recent study of office workers in the US claims. Overall, twelve percent of US employees work as freelancers as their primary source of income, and the same percentage freelance in addition to their primary job. The Staples Advantage Workplace Index reveals that employees freelance for a variety of reasons, including the flexibility to make their own hours (37 percent), make more money (39 percent), and achieve a work-life balance (32 percent). Businesses also benefit from this arrangement by getting access to highly skilled workers needed for special projects. Freelance workers need temporary access to IT services and equipment, designated work spaces, open communication with co-workers, and the right supplies to help deliver projects. As a result, finds the report, smart, collaborative technology is becoming more ‘mainstream’, in helping establish efficient team structures and collaboration models.
“For businesses, augmenting staff with temporary, contract workers is not new,” said Neil Ringel, executive vice president, Staples Advantage. “While the organised online marketplace makes it easier to tap into a pool of skilled workers, businesses need to pay attention to the needs and expectations of freelancers and independent contractors as they can be quite different.”
Considerations for Businesses Hiring Freelancers should take the following points into consideration:
- Aligning on a workforce strategy. Human resources and procurement officers need to develop a strategy that balances efficiency, effectiveness, and risk when vetting, managing, and compensating freelancers and contract workers in line with the market.
- Finding the right mix of face-to-face interaction. Most freelance work should involve some sort of face-to-face interaction, whether the freelancer sits in the office for the duration of the project or has a mix of virtual and in-person work.
- Providing necessary technology and accommodating personal mobile devices. Businesses should ensure extra equipment such as laptops, docking stations, and monitors are available so freelancers can plug in and get to work without delay. IT departments should also be prepared to incorporate personal mobile technology into their mobile device management service as appropriate.
- Considering safety concerns. When new freelance employees enter the building, facility managers must provide the necessary safety trainings, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Right to Know standard.
- Managing expenses for supplies. In some cases, freelancers or contract workers may use their own office supplies and charge it back to the company as an expense, which means negotiated cost savings with office supply providers can be lost. Procurement officers should ensure freelancers and contract workers use company bill codes when acquiring supplies to get company discounts.
“The freelance economy is a win-win for people who have a desire to work on their own time and companies who want to streamline in-house operations,” said Pat Griffin, enterprise account executive at HourlyNerd.
“The freelance economy enables businesses to redefine their workplace strategy making the physical workspace more effective by establishing efficient team structures and collaboration models.”