One of the trends that has been associated with the growth of the gig economy has been the emerging tendency of many companies to hire remote freelancers from around the world. While doing so certainly has its advantages, there are also definite downsides and challenges associated with this practice, particularly when a company chooses to hire international freelancers. In this article, we will discuss how companies can overcome the associated challenges with remote freelancers by hiring local freelancers instead.
Generally speaking, an ever-increasing number of companies are looking to find freelancers. For example, a report made by FlexJobs stated that there was a 26% increase in job postings for remote workers placed on their platform between 2014 and 2015. Therefore, it can be clearly concluded that the number of companies looking to hire freelancers is increasing consistently, and this trend is showing no indication of slowing down.
Key Benefits of Hiring Local Freelancers
1. Personal Relationships
Hiring local freelancers can greatly assist the development of close working relationships between a company and the freelancer that they choose to hire. On the other hand, when one hires a freelancer from overseas, communication is often made difficult due to time zone differences and is restricted to only calls, and at most video conversations. Timely and regular communication is far easier to establish and maintain with freelancers that are located in the same city as the company hiring them. When companies work with local freelancers, they are able to meet their freelancers in person, have lengthy conversations, and intensively discuss certain fine points that may be difficult or time-consuming to communicate over the phone or over email.
In addition, when such meetings take place regularly, the relationship between the freelancer and the company grows rapidly and therefore can even transform into a full-time engagement or into a contract offer from the company directly.
In short, face-to-face interaction allows companies and freelancers to develop more personal relationships and facilitates increases in productivity and collaboration.
2. Simplification of Payments
When companies work with freelancers from abroad, one of the key issues that often crops up is the difficulty in transacting payments. When companies and freelancers connect through freelance platforms, for example, these platforms often charge significant transaction fees and can also delay payments for a variety of reasons including processing delays related to verification and security procedures. On the other hand, if a company chooses to pay remote freelancers directly, they run into issues with facilitating those payments as well. Many of the international payment platforms charge exorbitant transaction fees, make payments very slowly, or are generally unreliable. In addition to these issues, currency exchange rates and fees also make the process cumbersome and costly to companies and freelancers alike.
On the other hand, when both the company and the freelancers that they employ are located in the United States, there are a great variety of payment providers that they can choose between in order to transact payments. In addition, companies can pay freelancers through options such as direct deposit which is something that is difficult to impossible to achieve when companies work with international freelancers.
3. Building a Local Team
While hiring international freelancers is a good option for companies that are seeking individuals to complete small projects or are not looking for permanent engagements, companies that choose to hire local freelancers gain the additional ability to ‘try out’ freelancers prior to bringing them on-board as full-time members of their teams. Seeing as these local freelancers already reside in the same city as the company, bringing them on-board is a simple process that does not require the freelancer to relocate and does not require the company to sponsor them for work visas, amongst other difficulties.
Through hiring local freelancers on the contract-to-hire model, companies can gradually build out entire teams of talented, vetted individuals in order to complete critical tasks for the company. For example, a company can choose to hire a variety of local marketing specialists as freelancers. As these freelancers complete projects, the company can then identify the individuals that are the best fit and extend contracts to them to work for the company on a permanent basis. Through going through this process a number of times, a company can therefore build an entire marketing team composed of the very best talent.
Individuals that live and work in the same area have a professional reputation that they are personally invested into maintaining. On the other hand, individuals working with companies from other countries are often difficult to manage and working with them can expose a company to risks such as being abandoned midway through a project or being extorted for additional money over and above the originally agreed sums.
When a company chooses to employ local freelancers, they can therefore ensure a far higher level of control and professional accountability in their relationship with their workers seeing as those workers are invested into their professional reputations in the same city.
Also in relation to accountability, local freelancers are typically more actively engaged in carrying out their assigned projects to the best of their ability due to the significantly more direct staking of their reputations. Therefore, the difference in the quality of results that are delivered by local as opposed to remote freelancers is often remarkable.
5. Avoiding Language Barriers
As one can expect, when companies hire remote freelancers from other countries around the world, they are usually paired with individuals for whom English is a second language. This can lead to challenges in communicating project requirements and providing feedback on deliverables. While this is something that can be worked around for some types of projects, in other instances this is something that is simply an insurmountable issue.
On the other hand, when companies instead hire local freelancers in the west, they are far more likely to find freelancers who have an extensive grasp of the English language. This is particularly important for projects which require thorough linguistic fluency such as copywriting, marketing management, and translation tasks, just to name a few examples.
6. Lower Turnover
When a company chooses to hire local freelancers, particularly when said freelancers are located in the same city, the company can thereby ensure that freelancer turnover is minimized or even completely eliminated. The reason for this is because when a company works with local freelancers, the option of converting freelancers to full-time employees becomes available. Put another way, while it is highly challenging to hire a remote freelancer full-time following a positive experience due to the associated legal challenges and the need to relocate that individual, it is far simpler to do this when companies find local freelancers instead.
In addition, some freelancing websites that focus on connecting companies with local freelancer talent have features which facilitate promoting freelancers to full-time positions. For instance, the freelancing platform SkillSoniq offers a service that it calls the “contract-to-hire” model which allows companies to connect with local freelancers and once companies are satisfied with the performance of their freelancers, allows the companies to directly hire the freelancers with which they have worked. To learn more about contract-to-hire, click here.
On the other hand, one of the major issues for companies that hire remote freelance talent is the fact that it is usually the case that each individual freelancer only works with a company for one specific project and upon conclusion of a given project, the company is therefore forced to search for another individual.
This is clearly not ideal, particularly for companies that have complex unique selling propositions that require a great deal of explanation before a freelancer can begin working. In those cases, a company may be forced to go through many time-consuming cycles wherein they hire freelancers repeatedly, each time spending valuable time on educating new individuals on their company’s specific positioning and services.
7. Security and Legal
It is frequently the case that companies possess proprietary or confidential information that could be highly damaging if it were shared outside of it. However, it is also often necessary for companies to work with freelancers who require access to this type of information in order to complete their assigned tasks. In such cases, it is particularly important for companies to find local freelancers in order to be able to ensure the security of their information without worrying about the potentially difficult enforcement of applicable laws in foreign jurisdictions. After all, if a company chooses to hire local freelancers, those freelancers would consequently be subject to the local laws of the company’s jurisdiction.
8. Core Competencies
While hiring remote freelancers can be a great way for companies to save significant amounts of money, it is notable that a company should not hire remote freelancers for certain types of tasks. These tasks are the ones that relate to a business’s unique competencies. In other words, the tasks that are core to the competitive advantage of a given business should not be outsourced to remote individuals.
For instance, a company that offers cloud computing solutions should not hire remote freelancers to develop its core platform. The reason for this has to do with the aforementioned security and legal issues but also has to do with the natural impermanence of working with remote contractors. Due to this latter factor, it is advised to hire remote freelancers to complete time-consuming, necessary tasks which require little intimate knowledge of the ins-and-outs of company operations.
However, there are certain cases in which companies may indeed like to recruit freelancers to complete tasks that have to do with the key operations of the company and do require intimate knowledge of the company’s core business.
In these cases, the best option for a company is to hire a local freelancer. By doing so, a company can benefit from finding an employee to complete specific tasks without having to immediately commit to a long-term engagement. At the same time, the company also retains the ability to hire the freelancer full-time at a later date.
For instance, a New York based marketing company that has developed a unique localized surveying system for retail stores may wish to hire a freelancer to develop a well-designed and visually impactful presentation deck. Due to the need to deeply understand the company and its product, it would not be appropriate to hire remote talent for this position, but a local freelancer could be a great fit.
To learn more about the contract-to-hire model and how you can hire a local freelancer today, click here.