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Three Benefits Freelancers Can Bring To Your Business (Especially During A Time Of Economic Unpredictability) From a business perspective it makes more sense than ever to engage freelancers to keep costs in check and mitigate the expensive onboarding process.

By Laura Roberts

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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Last week, I was asked by a recruiter friend of mine to recommend a copywriter for a role in-house. So far, so standard. The only point of difference was that she was the third person in as many days reaching out to me to source this kind of talent.

Former clients and colleagues had also approached me asking the same question. My response disappointed them- everyone I knew in this space was either freelance, not in the country, or looking for more flexible working opportunities.

As someone who has been working in content marketing for over 10 years, four of those as a freelancer, this wasn't exactly news to me. I say this as someone who has seen the many peaks and dips in demand through the COVID-19 crisis, and now, more disruption is incoming thanks to the looming worldwide recession.

Yet, despite the uncertain landscape, it's true to say that people no longer view security in the same way, say through the lens of having a "full-time" vocation. Considering the mass layoffs in 2020 across every industry, and now two years later with the likes of Meta, Amazon, and Twitter all shedding big numbers (around 24,000 tech jobs in November 2022 alone) it's clear that the working world is no longer so black and white.

Taking this into account, surely from a business perspective, it makes more sense than ever to engage freelancers to keep costs in check and mitigate the expensive onboarding process? There is so much unknown as we navigate the road to recovery, and as priorities shift for everyone, companies should take advantage of the widening freelance talent pool and look to engage people on either a part-time, flexible, temporary, or retainer basis.

Related: The How-To: Managing Freelancers Effectively

Perhaps there is still more to be done to show the true value here. Although, the reality also seems particularly at odds with the data coming out of the region too. In a 2021 Freelancing in the MENA survey, approximately 52% of businesses hired freelancers because they were able to deliver to tight deadlines, with 17% admitting they were cost-effective. The survey also revealed that freelancers were good for contingency planning and provided support for small departments.

However, why does it feel like this isn't quite the case in reality?

I wonder whether there is an unconscious bias when it comes to freelancers. The notion that they are best suited to project-based work or smaller jobs, simply because companies feel that extending the agreement beyond this wouldn't be fiscally sound or work for the long-term.

If that is the case, it goes some way to explaining the talent shortage, especially within the content management vertical right now, and why they appear to be struggling to hire for permanent roles.

The general consensus from the conversations I've had seems to be that having the resource on site is essential to productivity. Not only that, but they are on hand to work as and when, not splitting their time between other clients and projects. To an extent this may be true, but post-COVID-19, the way in which we all work has shifted to such a degree that I'd argue companies can't afford to operate in this way alone.

Output still seems to be measured on physical hours, whether that's watching an office clock in your cubicle or productivity tools tracking your performance online. To me it all seems counterintuitive and counterproductive, especially in the wake of the "quiet quitting" movement, there needs to be give and take from both sides.

I appreciate that there are some industries that do require full-time in-house teams, but even then, could you benefit from the additional support a freelance partner could provide? We are all living our lives in permanent greyscale right now, precariously balancing the books and trying to keep clients happy, so why not look for new partnerships and alliances to meet these increasingly shifting demands?

Everyone will have a different perspective, but economic unpredictability tends to make people double down on past decisions that were successful, whether they are right or wrong for this moment in time.

Ultimately, changing your strategy this late in the game may not be an option, but it's at least worth having the conversation to see if there is a way that freelance support can help steady the boat and help your business thrive. As the world of work continues to evolve, this feels like the perfect time to reconsider the value that freelancers could bring into the mix.

Here's three benefits I thought worth highlighting:

1. Get a different perspective We're all guilty of working in silo, contributing our own element to the overall project and not really engaging enough with others. By employing freelancers, you naturally shake up this static work environment, as they come in with fresh eyes and usually a different perspective. Diversity in a company structure is only going to help increase the flow of ideas and come up with new solutions as a result. Particularly in this climate, I think this is so important.

2. Access to a larger talent pool Businesses may need to hire for specialists or specific skillset roles, and struggle to find what they need if they are restricted by locality. By opening up the position or project to freelancers, you can tap into talent from across the world, choosing from a larger pool of remote talent that have a wealth of experience to offer. You'll be able to review past work and recommendations to vet their suitability ahead of time, while not diverting resources internally. On this note, consider the fact that freelancers build their reputation through working with different clients, so they will want to complete the work to a high standard, on time, and within budget.

3. Better flexibility and cost-effectiveness From a business perspective, there isn't the huge financial commitment of onboarding a new team member by covering visa costs and health insurance, as well as the emotional/personal investment of finding the right person in the first place. Then you have all the time dedicated to new starters, cluing them in on company practices and cultures, as well as training and target milestones to set. Hiring a freelancer allows companies to reduce costs without sacrificing work output- they don't need time to adjust, they are just ready to get on with the task at hand.

Related: Freelancers Could Play A Key Role In Your Business' Expansion

Laura Roberts

Content marketer and strategist

Laura Roberts is a content marketer and strategist with over 10 years of experience writing across print and online mediums, helping connect brands to their consumers through thoughtful and engaging content.

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