For many business owners, the concept of outsourcing key services and employing freelancers seems a new trend.
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But have you ever employed a plumber or builder? Do they think you could knock-up a loft extension or install an en-suite?
The majority of homeowners know that this work is beyond their skills and therefore employ an outsourced (or freelance) professional to do the job. They don’t take said plumber into the bosom of their family (well, some do, if they run out of cash for the bill), preferring to just pay the tradesman for the work he does.
This utterly normal transaction between customers and suppliers is exactly the same as a freelancer providing services to a business. Sometimes, the business services outsourced are already being carried out within the company, but if the extra workload is only going to be project-based or short-lived it is equally impractical and expensive to employ extra permanent staff.
There’s a host of other benefits for the employer – for instance, the eradication of downtime.
Whereas an employer pays their in-house staff for their physical time in the office, a freelancer gets paid only for the work they do.
Other benefits of freelancers to the employer include – but are not limited to – no commitment towards the provider, no need to pay employee benefits such as holiday pay, etc; increased efficiency levels, professional service, reliability, flexibility, extra skill sets – the list could go on and on.
Okay, can a freelancer really eradicate employee downtime?
A typical day in the life of in-house staff:
- 9:00 a.m. Intended commencement of work.
- 9:45 a.m. Actual commencement of work. (Well, you’ve just got to detail your previous evening’s events to the masses….).
- 10:30 a.m. Coffee-time. (Ten-minute argument over who will make it; one minute journey to the kettle takes twenty when stopping off to chat to colleagues along the way, then it’s another twenty minutes to drink it and eat those delightful biscuits Joan’s brought in….her daughter’s over from France you know…).
- 12:00 a.m. Dinner-time. The fastest most employees move all day. Some go out, some eat at their desk. All will go over the allotted time by a few minutes or twenty.
- 2.00 p.m. Crafty internet surf as the sugar lows kick-in.
- 4.00 p.m. Start packing up for a five o’clock finish – there’s no point starting a job at that time. Spend half-an-hour in the loo, passing….time.
- 5.00 p.m. Knock-off, exhausted.
A typical day in a freelancers life:
- 6.30 a.m. Early start to fit clients’ work in and allow for overrun.
- 6.00 p.m. Kids are begging for their tea and you realize you’ve not lifted your head from the computer all day, least of all eaten or visited the loo.
This is, of course, just a generalization and a humorous attempt to outline the fact that freelancers simply don’t DO downtime – because they don’t get a penny for it. Freelancers have to keep their prices competitive or they don’t win repeat work, and with no monthly salary pouring into their bank without fail, they cannot afford to waste a minute.
In my business, I provide clerical/administration support for companies that have either too much work for their in-house staff or too little.
If this sounds contradictory, imagine a business that has to make cuts to avoid making losses. The first place they look is towards non-productive staff – which usually means administrative and clerical employees. The workload doesn’t diminish but the company must get more value for their money – and if the in-house member offers three hours productivity from their eight hours physically in the office, over a freelancer that gives eight hours work for eight hours pay – as a business owner, what would you do?
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