Over the last decade, the gig economy has transformed the way we work and do business. More and more people are leaving their corporate jobs to pursue the freedom and flexibility that working for themselves, as consultants or contractors, allows.
According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the self-employed sector now includes approximately 4.8 million people, with freelancers comprising 42% of that population and 6% of the UK workforce as a whole.
Moreover, IPSE reports that in 2016, freelancers contributed an impressive £119 billion to the national economy. This was up from £109 billion in 2015 and experts are predicting that this number will only continue to grow in the years to come.
This shift in the way people work is forcing employers to re-evaluate their processes. For agencies, the lengthy retainers we once saw are being replaced by flexible, project-based relationships. For businesses, freelance talent is being tapped on an as-needed basis, rather than bringing someone on full time.
It looks like this UK workforce trend will continue to grow as more workers realise the potential benefits of setting out on their own and more companies realise the value of tapping into freelance talent. We already see a huge increase in companies, both large and small, tapping into online freelance talent using platforms like Fiverr that have easily productised services and made the process of hiring a freelancer as easy as buying something on Amazon.
So is hiring an independent contractor the right choice for your company? Let’s explore the pros and cons.
According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average hire costs over £3,065 to onboard. In contrast, freelancers work at competitive rates. They typically work on short-term contracts or on a per project basis. Therefore, companies have limited overhead costs and ultimately a higher ROI. According to a study by Fiverr, roughly 30% of companies and/or entrepreneurs who have hired freelancers say they’ve saved them more than £76,650 in the last 12 months.
Freelancers are there when you need them to be there. The beauty of the freelance lifestyle is that they get to work when they want to work and where they want to work. Marketplaces like Fiverr that allow you to contract workers from all over the world mean that time zones are never an issue – if it’s 6pm on a Monday in London and you need a presentation designed by 10am Tuesday morning, enlist the services of a designer in the US on Fiverr and they’ll have it done for you in a few hours.
Freelancers run their own business, which thrives on repeat work and repeat customers. They strive to turn in their best work, every time, to maintain the relationship and keep the customer coming back. What’s even better? When hiring from platforms like Fiverr, client reviews and testimonials as well as portfolio work are visible on their profile page. So anytime a customer is interested in hiring someone, they have full visibility into that person’s work ethic and quality before they even connect with them.
Companies working with freelancers have outside of their geographical limits opens the doors to a greater understanding of new markets. A freelancer in the UK can tell a US based company what they need to do to grow and scale their business in the UK and vise versa. Additionally, working with people from different racial, ethnic or cultural backgrounds lends itself to more creative, thought-provoking work.