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For some businesses, time is even harder to make than money. Even if you have an entire team of talented employees working on various projects, it can still feel as though there is never quite enough time to focus on the revenue-generating tasks that will really help you to scale and grow.
Indeed, a study published by the Center For Creative Leadership revealed that managers and professionals from the US and 36 other countries work an average of 72 hours a week. Even for the 60% of this group who conduct business remotely and on their smart phones are connected to work 13.5 to 18.5 hours a day. Globally, CEOs tend to work approximately 12-15 hours a day.
On average, they have only about three hours on workdays for “discretionary” activities such as being with their family, exercising, showering, and household chores.
One of the reasons for this is that low-level repetitive tasks often use up the majority of their resources.
This is one of the reasons businesses turn to freelancers and freelance marketplaces to free up time and resources.
One of the most common ways to hire new freelancers is to use an online marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr. Indeed, more than 30% of Fortune 500 companies are now hiring via sites such as Upwork.
Moreover, 59% of companies now use a flexible workforce, according to a study by Upwork.
The main benefit of hiring freelancers is that it reduces overheads and workspace requirements for businesses. It also makes it easier for companies to increase their talent pool by removing traditional geo-restrictions and bureaucratic boundaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of an employee’s salary goes to the wage itself, leaving 30% to account for benefits. As freelancers are technically self-employed, companies theoretically save 30% for each hire.
While that is not a concrete correlation, hiring freelancers is undeniably more cost-effective than hiring and training new employees to complete tedious, rote tasks that could be completed by an entirely flexible workforce.
Unpredictability: The problem is that hiring freelancers can be a little hit or miss. If you happen to stumble across a good freelancer, then the project will be completed much more smoothly. However, what most businesses find is that when they hire freelancers, retaining the good ones can be difficult and expensive, as they are competing against other businesses for the best talent. However, the more likely scenario is that the process of hiring freelancers involves a certain degree of trial and error.
Low quality work: Many freelance networks attract large numbers of agents from low income countries. While this can be a benefit in terms of the price you pay for them, it can also be a disadvantage. Sometimes agents will lure clients with significantly low rates - along with low quality work. Even in the absence of location problems, finding skilled freelancers that meet your standards of quality is in itself a difficult challenge.
Lack of communication: Hiring the wrong person is fraught with problems. The most common problems include a lack of communication from freelancers, especially if they are either in a different time zone or they constantly move from one time zone to another. Communication issues can subsequently result in misunderstandings, which could result in you receiving deliverables that do not match your expectations.
In the worst cases, some freelancers have been known to simply disappear - along with your work and projects that you assigned to them.
Productivity issues: According to the Freelance Writers’ Survey, 30% of freelancers reported that they spend less than 8 hours per week on billable work. A further 23% spent between 8-14 hours per week on billable work, while just 8% spent between 31-40 hours per week on billable work per week.
Missed deadlines: The survey also revealed that a quarter (25%) of freelancers said that they miss deadlines at least 10% of the time, while 10% revealed that they miss deadlines up to 25% of time.
This is a major issue for businesses that rely upon freelancers. After all, the whole point of hiring freelancers in the first place is to alleviate work that your team just can’t get through. If the freelancer you end up choosing can’t get through them either, then the whole process will end up costing you more time and money than it would if you were to simply delegate the tasks to internal teams.
Too many options: Furthermore, when you post a job on a marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr, you will often get bombarded by dozens of applications from freelancers that all appear to match the job requirements. Sifting through all of those replies and selecting the most suitable one is in itself a time-consuming endeavor.
Ironically, the process of selecting freelancers could end up being yet another recurring task that eats up valuable time - and money.
Security: If you have complex work requirements that are highly sensitive, in terms of political, security or copyright considerations, then hiring random agents on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr is a security breach waiting to happen. You really have very little control over what agents may subsequently do with your ideas, resources and information. It is also incredibly difficult to conduct in-depth background checks and analyze the security credentials of online freelancers that will usually be based overseas. Moreover, because they do not work exclusively for your company, it is difficult to have complete control over the vetting and disciplinary processes.
Hiring freelancers is painful. It is of course true that a great freelancer can eliminate pain and streamline efficiency in your business. But the process of finding a great freelancer causes almost as many problems as it solves. So once again, it is the processes that get in the way of progress.
What businesses need is a simple, quick and affordable way to tackle all of those bloated workflows that block scalability. However, it is also important to find quality work without going through the same burden that you would when you hire employees directly.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how do you scale productivity?
Worksharing is a new concept that scales the traditional freelancing and outsourcing model and combines the best elements of BPO (business process outsourcing), RPA (robotic process automation) and human intervention.
Rather than going through the inconvenient and time consuming process of vetting applications, conducting background checks, and chasing up projects - it makes more sense to delegate that to a company that specializes in taking on ongoing, tedious processes that you can explain.
This could include anything from submitting tax invoices, sifting through applications and matching them against your hiring criteria, data ops, research and outreach.
The best worksharing providers should also be able to demonstrate that they adhere to strict security guidelines and that only a small number of specialist agents are able to access the information needed to work on highly sensitive projects.
Rather than wading through hundreds of individual freelancing applications, it actually makes more sense to select a single company that employs a variety of agents that can conduct various processes - and adapt to your needs.
Worksharing providers are also highly unlikely to disappear right in the middle of a project, as they have a reputation to protect.
There are several things you need to look for when selecting a quality provider. The first, is reputation. Every BPO and worksharing company in existence will present themselves as the perfect solution to all of your problems.
However, the proof of the pudding is in the clients that they have served. Have they worked with any well-known companies? What about testimonials?
Take a careful look at their case studies to see what kind of work they have done before and the results.
Big companies are notoriously picky and analytical with the providers they bring on board, so if a vendor has worked with several, then this is a good indication of the quality of work you can come to expect.
Next, you want to check whether they have served businesses similar to yours in the past. For example, if you are a marketplace, you should check whether the company in question has worked with marketplaces. Or perhaps you are a high-growth tech company or a media enterprise.
Whatever sector or category you fall under, you really want to select a provider that has experience working with companies such as yours and can therefore demonstrate that they understand your unique challenges and market.
You should also take a careful look at their security protocols. Ask about how they vet their agents and protect client data. They should be able to demonstrate how their agents are equipped to handle the specific tasks your business requires. For example, if agents are deployed to supervise the implementation of RPA or ML technology, then the company in question should be able to demonstrate how that process will work in practice when conducting the tasks that you need.
And while we’re on the subject of technology, what tech do they use? The most sophisticated companies use a combination of AI, RPA, smart workflows and IPA. On top of it all, specially trained human agents across different time zones are responsible for ensuring that all processes are running smoothly.
If your business needs are complex, then you will want the security of knowing that the worksharing company you use has the tech capabilities to run your processes. This way, you don’t have to invest in all of the expensive tech yourself.
Of course, the cost is another important factor. As a general rule of thumb, you should choose a provider that gives you the best value for money for a fixed monthly price that is significantly more cost-effective compared to the cost of hiring new teams and investing in new tech systems.
Following these simple steps will streamline both your business workflows - and the clunky, online process of finding a decent freelancer.
So if your corporate progress is bogged down by many inefficient but necessary processes - consider worksharing instead.
Wanna know more? Meet Invisible - an outsourcing and automation service for tech companies and marketplaces. We help cross-functional leads at companies like Vida, LinkedIn, and Artsy (the biggest fine art ecommerce site) do everything from making algorithms smarter to scaling customer acquisition to keeping the financial books clean. We also build and create our own tools to adapt to the changing needs of our clients. Bottom line: we give operators the support that outsourcing, freelancers, and tech platforms can’t quite deliver.