October 5, 2018 The Work Crowd

Freelancer or Permanent Employee, how to choose?

The workplace is changing. Modern communications are making it infinitely easier for people to work remotely. With the growth of the internet and the rise of the gig economy, a huge, global pool of flexible talent is opening up before businesses.

All the new possibilities out there mean many businesses are casting off the admin and HR of full-time employees and relying more and more on independent freelancers. But some bosses are still hesitant to disrupt the time-tested format of a permanent team. What are the advantages of using freelancers? And when is it best to stick with contracted employees?

Why use a freelancer?

  • Quality. Freelancers are nothing without their reputation. They have a vested interest in doing great work, because the quality of their work puts clients on their books and food on the table. While some permanent employees need training up or can ‘coast’ within the bounds of their contract, freelancers have to put their heart and soul into their work from the word ‘go’. What’s more, freelancers have often come from senior roles in business, before calving a career out of doing what they love. And enjoyment of the work more or less guarantees great quality.
  • Fresh thinking. When you hire a freelancer, you’re tapping into a completely fresh mindset. Freelancers can provide the kind of outside perspective and innovative ideas that brands hunger for. Plus, freelancers will usually have a wide range of experience within their fields, so can provide a great deal of valuable market insight.
  • More flexibility. When you’re working with a team of full-time employees, you have a limited pool of skillsets and abilities to work with. Upskilling workers can be lengthy and expensive. With freelancers, on the other hand, you can quickly pull together a team of ready-trained contractors for the duration of a given project, with the flexibility to change things up at short notice if needed.
  • Less admin. Being an employer comes with a lot of responsibilities. When you take on an employee, you also take on a duty of care for them. You become responsible for their safety and wellbeing at work, for their pension, for their taxes, and much more. Freelancers, on the other hand, take care of themselves. While you’ll probably sign a contract with a freelancer, you won’t be liable for the minutiae of their working life in the same way that you would be for an employee. This takes a lot off your shoulders.
  • Greater diversity. Chances are as a business, you’re looking to communicate with a wide and diverse audience. And doing that successfully requires a diverse team. Teams of permanent employees quickly develop their own culture and dynamic which – while great in many ways – can also lead to ‘groupthink’. In contrast, freelancers can be drawn from a huge and diverse global talent pool, with massively differing mindsets and experiences. This gives you tons of scope to get your message out in a multitude of ways to reach new audiences.
  • Usually works out cheaper. Freelancers only charge for the work they do, and this is a lot cheaper in the long term than the steady trickle of wages, sick pay, training expenses, holiday pay, admin, Christmas bonuses and so on, which go towards employees.
  • Less risk. Freelancers are responsible for themselves. Many of them will have insurance in place, at their own expense. It’s very much in their interests not to mess up – and if they do, they will clean up after themselves. If, however, an employee makes a mistake, it’s up to the company to take the rap and sort things out. If you’re risk-averse, a freelancer is definitely a good call.

Why hire an employee?

  • Core consistency. While freelancers often feel passionately about the brands they work with, a core team of permanent employees does provide a fundamental consistency which many businesses find invaluable. Permanent employees get to know the workings of your business intimately and often form a group dynamic which brings out the best in everyone. Not to mention that it’s nice to have someone familiar to chat to on a daily basis.
  • Practicality. Having a permanent team working daily from the same location has a lot of logistical advantages. It makes for efficient communication, and enables you to make use of your employee’s time in a more diverse manner than would otherwise be the case. You can involve regular employees, who will be working for you in a set location for set hours, in more areas of your business than you could a remote freelancer.
  • Greater control. An employee is under a contract which ‘ties’ them to your business. While most freelancers work with great passion and dedication, an employee contract arguably gives an employer tighter control over their work output than they might have with a freelancer. Many employees also feel that a contract is a statement of commitment to their job, and want to honour that commitment.   
  • Business builders: Freelancers are ideal for supporting with specific areas of the business, particularly where specialist skills are involved. However, if you’re looking for somebody to take on management responsibility, train and mentor new staff and ultimately help you grow your business, then a permanent employee is your best bet. Freelancers work the way they do because they like the freedom and autonomy it gives them, which means they’ll never be brought entirely into the company fold.  

All in all, for high quality work at low cost and with few to low admin duties – hire a freelancer. For team spirit, consistency, and greater control – bring an employee onto the payroll.

If you’re not sure whether a freelancer is right for you, or you’re not sure where to start with bringing one on, then give us a shout on 020 3828 8440 or at *protected email*. We’re always here to answer your questions and queries about freelancing, and if you decide to take the plunge, we’ll help you find the perfect person.

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