The world as a whole is facing the most challenging time in recent history. The health and economic effects of COVID-19 caught most countries off guard. Mid-March and early April were extremely volatile, and the information on how the virus spread was oftentimes contradictory. We knew one thing for certain: staying home would save lives. However, staying home also had major negative effects on the economy, and our businesses.
Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 14.5 percent in April, slowly recovering to 10.2 percent in July. However, while governments have released unprecedented stimuli packages (to the tune of 3 trillion in the U.S. and 750 billion in the EU), there are still individuals falling through the cracks. That is why startup companies are taking a hard look at how to reimagine the critical and fast-evolving world of work.
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The rise of freelancing in the COVID-19 era
Historically, the gig economy has been viewed adversely, with many people associating it solely with the Postmates and Ubers of the world and their lack of benefits that those with permanent employment generally can access. However, in the context of an economy reeling from COVID-19, freelancing now means something quite different. Millions of people have lost their jobs, which has resulted in a surge of individuals becoming freelancers and gig workers to make ends meet.
While this may seem like a major transition now, the outcome will be a more knowledgeable and effective workforce with long-term benefits that will push a generation to think differently about how they work.
The perks of utilizing freelancers
The future of remote work is now one of the most discussed topics as business owners are being forced to reevaluate hiring strategies, with many choosing to use multiple freelancers with highly-targeted skills for the price of a single employee.
This realization across industries has pushed the gig economy to the edge of a major transformation, and rapid growth during the pandemic is just the tip of the iceberg. The months of remote work in 2020 have shown companies that even complex roles and tasks can be effectively executed by a talented freelancer who never steps foot in the physical office.
This, combined with the economic benefits, is particularly important for startups, which strive to operate as lean as possible.
For specific projects such as website design, white papers, press releases, product descriptions, email newsletters, or even podcasts and audio advertising spots, freelancers are an affordable and effective way to get quality content while keeping core staff focused on the company’s key objectives.
There is no longer a reason to hire someone full-time to continually support these projects. Instead, pay someone up front, build and maintain the relationships with a network of freelancers, and utilize them on a project-to-project basis.
Looking ahead five years
The key to effectively managing project-based freelancers is to utilize a third-party platform that can act as a go-between to connect businesses with a pool of potential candidates at the right cost, which ensures quality work is delivered on time.
Although some startups hesitate to do this for fear of losing control of the quality of deliverables, the reality is that the right third-party service will have a pool of thousands of carefully vetted freelancers that will allow them to deliver projects that are of the highest quality far faster than traditional avenues.
The transition to these services will lead to a few fundamental truths in five years’ time:
- Real-time content creation: Freelance service marketplaces will no longer sell businesses on a relationship with a particular person. Instead, they’ll show some sample creatives and supply a freelancer who can match that spec. As a result, a 24-hour turnaround for creative projects will be industry-standard by 2025.
- Hyper-localized content, anywhere: Creating hyper-localized content around the world won’t just be for the major multinationals anymore. By utilizing a network of freelancers, companies of any size will be able to complete robust, hyper-local projects that previously would have been cost-prohibitive.
- An end to freelance ghosting: As startups increasingly turn to freelance services partners, the concept of “freelance ghosting” will become a thing of the past. These third-party suppliers have access to thousands of candidates and can look after all of the project logistics to ensure rapid completion.
If you’ve never considered using freelancers because the risk seemed to outweigh the reward, I encourage you to take a second look at how working with a third-party freelance service can alleviate some of the stress of your company’s day-to-day operations.
The bottom line is that standard recruiting confines startups to only hiring employees for one specific area or field. However, embracing the use of freelancers gives startups the ability to cut down on overhead costs and grow your market by unlocking a diverse field of workers with a range of experience, education, and skill to fit any project need.