Full-time jobs appear to be on the decline. Research by MBO Partners reveals that freelance work will outpace full-time work by 2020. As of 2014, more than 53 million Americans, or one-third of the work force, were working as freelancers. In recent years, most Americans who want a full-time job are increasingly not able to find one. This can be an asset for both businesses and professionals. Employers get the benefit of paying only for output, while professionals can earn better with multiple projects. Many freelancers also reap the benefits of a better work-life balance, in that they can work when and where they want to.

However, in a real world scenario, supply-and-demand in the freelance work force does still have transactional friction and inefficiency. Businesses and freelancers need to rely upon best practices, as well as leverage technology better, in order to optimize their operations.

Choosing the Work to Outsource

Outsourcing to freelancers can help your business focus on core competencies. Determine the tasks you don't have time to do, or lack the knowledge and skill to do yourself. Freelancers are available for nearly any task under the sun, including back-office or administrative work, technical services, and other business processes. You are better off hiring a seasoned professional on a project basis rather than wasting time trying to learn or do something on your own.

Finding the Right Tools

There is a big difference in how businesses manage regular employees and freelancers. You will need platforms that can help you manage teams, tasks, projects, and even financials.

WorkflowMax offers a platform to manage freelancers with project management, timesheets, invoicing, and reporting. It gives businesses much of what they need to stay on top of working with freelancers, whether it's a solo worker or a team. Because the platform is owned by Xero, which makes accounting and bookkeeping software aimed at small businesses, WorkflowMax can also automate the timekeeping and accounting processes through the Xero platform, which means you can directly pay your freelance contractors without much hassle.

Nutcache is a collaborative project-management tool with time tracking, invoicing, and expense management that helps teams collaborate, organize, track projects, and get paid. With multiple payment gateway options, it's easy to keep your payment options flexible. There's also an expense tracking tool and several reports to generate, ensuring visibility so you can stay on top of your business in terms of profits, productivity, and loss. This platform is an essential tool both for companies that employ freelancers as well as teams and professionals offering freelance work.

Finding the Right Teams

The Payoneer Income Survey 2015 says 46 percent of international freelancers turn to freelancer marketplace websites to find work, but some also use social media, with 15 percent using LinkedIn and 38 percent using Facebook for skills promotion. Join groups and participate in discussions that are specific to the types of freelancers your business is looking for.

Upwork, formerly oDesk and Elance, is a freelance marketplace. The platform also comes with its own time-tracking software which takes screenshots, so you can make sure freelancers are indeed working on your project, if you choose to pay on an hourly basis. You can also evaluate prospects by their previous work experience on the platform, as feedback can be left at the completion of each project.

Fiverr takes a different approach to the freelance marketplace. Home of the $5 project, this is a platform for people on a budget. While it is possible to evaluate people based on ratings from previous clients, this platform tends to bring in more entry-level workers. Fiverr is often best for one-time work requests, but you might be surprised at the skill level of some of the platform's members.

Expanding Your Options

Don't be afraid to outsource tasks to a team of professionals working freelance. Be aware, though, that most freelancers set their own schedules. When working with a team of freelancers all over the globe, finding a time slot that works well across multiple time zones may be difficult.

To ensure you're attracting the best talent, set competitive pay rates, keep your payment options flexible, and leverage your social media channels. Consider the standard pay scales according to industry, skill set, and even your freelance contractors' country of origin.

You can offer PayPal or even Bitcoin to ensure freelancers know they'll get paid within a reasonable timeframe, compared to waiting for a check to arrive in the mail. Feel free to reimburse freelancers for the cost of tools and facilities they may need. Co-working spaces are a particularly popular alternative to a home office, as these offer fast internet access and other amenities.

Freelancing creates an ideal economy for many businesses and independent workers. Companies are able to focus their efforts on core tasks that cannot be outsourced, get more control over their finances by paying only for work completed, and don't have to deal with the legalities of having employees. Freelancers get freedom to control where and when the work is done, have higher income potential, and can become their own boss. The key to success is finding the right freelancers and using the right tools to make the relationship as productive and fulfilling as possible.

Published on: Jun 29, 2015