Owing to softer economic conditions in 2019, there were slightly more Singaporeans who chose to freelance than in the previous year, with a majority comprising taxi and private hire drivers, and insurance agents. Even as the recent pandemic slowed down progress, coping strategies, with additional state-sponsored help, allowed them to tide through.
This paints the true reality of a freelance career over full-time employment in Singapore — it has its pros and cons. While it brings in flexibility and independence, it falls short in terms of job security. But, freelancers offer immense value to corporations across industries as they are capable, efficient and determined.
The question is, how can freelancers complement a company’s workforce?
1. Employee-level skills at low hiring costs
Freelancers are talented individuals with proven track record of competencies by way of a portfolio or the equivalent. By collaborating with them, employers can combine skillsets of their employees with that of freelancers to enhance the quality of work for their stakeholders, be they internal or external. These freelancers come with capability levels comparable to full-time employees, which makes them highly professional practitioners.
Should employees need an extra hand in a project, these freelancers can be relied upon. What makes this professional relationship better is the nature of the relationship itself. It is one that is centred upon service availability, and therefore, they are only paid on an assignment or hourly basis. This makes freelancers a fantastic leverage especially among startups or smaller organisations that need additional manpower but are limited in the resources to provide for full-time staff.
2. Better optimisation of limited office space
When workload increases, employees feel overworked. The solution is simple — hire more staff, but apart from the financial constraints described above, employers are also limited in terms of office space. When it is not wise to upsize an office to host additional manpower just yet, one of the ways employers can support their workers is by hiring freelancers who can collaborate on assignments from their personal workstations.
3. Greater flexibility in accessing talents
When it comes to talent sourcing, employers need to make informed decisions. It is unfortunate to hire an employee who does not deliver as promised, lacks a learners’ attitude and falls short at being proactive. Bad hiring decisions are costly. However, employees may not have the skills required to perform some aspects of the job or have the time to do so, thus getting more help becomes pertinent.
Unless there is scope to train new hires in further aspects of a job, onboarding additional full-timers to cover only part of the responsibilities may not be worth the investment. In such cases, employers can look towards a pool of freelancers and engage different individuals for various tasks, those in which they are adept in, such as writers, digital marketers, graphic designers, technicians and teachers. This kills two birds with one stone — tasks can be completed proficiently, at a cost that is cheaper than hiring another full-timer to manage them. This comes with an additional benefit — these freelancers can be offered a full-time role if they have consistently delivered exceptional quality of work. In doing so, employers not only hire candidates with experience but also those with capabilities they can vouch for.
When should you not hire freelancers
Hiring freelancers is not advisable for all employers, especially when it comes to the type of job and the industry. There are several considerations:
- Confidentiality: Certain jobs in Singapore, like those in the government and military sectors, uphold a high level of secrecy. Freelancers may find it difficult to be contractually obliged to confidentiality, especially so when they need to showcase their work to other prospects for more assignments. There is also a high risk of farming out such work to freelancers when employers do not have control over their work environment as much as they do over their employees’.
- Urgency: If the nature of a job is one that requires speed, hiring freelancers may be a bane than a boon. Regardless of the exceptional expertise they can provide, employers will need to make a compromise with their work schedules. This is because freelancers are not only partnering with one but several organisations at a time. As freelancers have the right to accept or decline an assignment if they feel they are unable to commit, depending on these individuals may cause delays in work delivery. Should urgency be of priority, hiring a full-timer will be a better option.
- Growth: Employees within an organisation develop their capabilities for personal growth and deliver their expertise to the teams and departments they work for. On the other hand, freelancers grow at their pace, towards a direction they have planned for themselves. They do not have any commitment to the organisations they are freelancing for. Therefore, if organisational growth is your goal and you need people to make it work for you, bringing in more full-timers to meet your vision over freelancers is ideal.