In times of unparalleled uncertainty, employers don’t necessarily want to be getting into bed with full-time employees. Many would rather a no-strings-attached arrangement with one or more freelancers, at least until they regain their financial footing. While this is certainly not good news for those that have been laid off, it presents thousands of freelancers with months of good work, and could help just as many businesses rebuild in the wake of the pandemic.
Temporary plasters before a transplant are possible
If you’re a small to medium-sized business in 2021, there is a strong chance that you’ve had to lay off staff to remain afloat this past year. While this was a necessary action, it has left you with missing parts, gaps in vital areas that you must be looking to fill once business returns. However, rehiring is a perilous affair. Rehire early, and you’re throwing away money. Rehire late, and you won’t have time to give employees adequate training to prepare them for the role. Enter the freelancer, or temporary business plaster. They can fill skill gaps in your business, whether it’s graphic design, marketing or bookkeeping, for an allotted time period while instability is rife. A full-on organ transplant (or full-time employee) may have to be postponed for later, when the patient is in a more stable condition for the surgery. For the time being, a freelancer may prove an effective and cost-efficient solution.
Freelancers are solitary creatures. Whereas in-house salary workers often need time to assimilate into the company, to get acquainted with colleagues and bosses, freelancers have no such expectations. They have elected to do contract work, and thus are comfortable adjoining themselves to your business from afar. That is not to say that they should be left solely to their own devices; active communication is still important, be it via email or Zoom call, to get the most out of the partnership.
Responding to demand
Surviving such tumultuous times requires resourcefulness. A business in 2021 that picks up what work it can attain, remaining semi-operational through this period of stagnation will be in a better position than its competitor in full hibernation. You’re unlikely to be swamped with orders, but the occasional few may be trickling in, and you want to be able to fulfil these requests without the cost of running a full team. Freelancers enable you to respond to demand on a job-by-job basis, doing only what business comes your way, minimizing potential overheads.
Bournemouth-based exhibition contractor Quadrant2Design is one such company using this approach. Careful hiring of freelancers is enabling the business to ease its way back into form earlier than it otherwise would, gaining some much-needed cash flow before the orders come rushing back in. CEO Alan Jenkins comments, ‘The sooner we can get back to normal operation, the better. Freelancers allow us to skip past the recruitment process and jump right back into business, handling every order that comes our way in an otherwise arid climate.’
Being active and completing orders isn’t just beneficial for the profit it brings, but also for the company image. By fulfilling what demand there is for your service, you are showcasing to other potential clients that you’re open for business and making intelligent financial decisions to enable a swift return to normality.
Low risk experimentation
In the current economic state, businesses cannot afford to stagnate. While sticking to the products or services that have sold well in the past is a solid strategy, there are myriad ways to branch out and access new income sources. Freelancers are an excellent way to do this. Say a small company wants to start producing YouTube content, but is tethered to a relatively tight budget — why spend all the time and money needed to assemble an in-house team, when they can hire a freelancer? If it works, then fantastic: the relationship can continue to blossom and develop. If not, both parties go their own way with minimal cost, aside from the disappointment of a thwarted venture.
The road to recovery is unlikely to be a simple, linear progression. Businesses have had to make difficult decisions in order to endure unforgiving conditions, and are not yet out of the woods. Ross Pike of Koreti comments, ‘We have no manual for dealing with situations like COVID-19. Small to medium-sized businesses face some of the toughest challenges in the industry, and must be extremely careful with finance handling in order to overcome this next year.’ There are, however, ways of alleviating the financial burden that many companies bear. The use of freelancers is one such method: the partnership they offer may prove a life raft for businesses struggling to navigate these hazardous times.