Freelancers can often seem like they come at a price premium - but the value which working with freelancers brings can deliver higher ROI per project than a full time employee.
There's zero downtime, zero overheads, it's exactly the right person for the job, and independents are committed to doing work for you - if you create the right ways of working with your freelancers.
However, all too often, businesses neglect to put the correct structures in place, creating inefficiencies in finding, hiring, onboarding, briefing, collaborating, paying and maintaining relationships with trusted freelancers - making working with external independents more costly and less productive.
This inefficiency is often hidden - the best freelancers navigate the hurdles and gaps in order to deliver the best work they can, despite the cost and time savings more effective practices would deliver.
These gaps normally arise in organisations where there is little or no defined process for engaging freelancers - perhaps working with freelancers happens too infrequently to make it seem necessary; often it comes from rushing - and having little time to adequately support the external contractors; it can come from an incorrect understanding of how IR35 works or simply - no-one internally having time or knowing what might be useful.
As freelancers become more central and integrated to how businesses deliver work - not having policies and processes in place can lead to higher costs, longer timelines, lower quality work, or even an inability to hire freelancers again - 96% of freelancers would actively avoid working for clients who didn't support them to do their best work.
But where to start? What does it take to get the best from your freelancers, or build a network of trusted collaborators you can call upon?
The first step is an audit - to take stock of where you are today, what gaps and inefficiencies exist, and set a clear ambition for what your freelancer network could do for you.
From there, laser focus on removing hurdles and filling the strategic capability gaps makes your network robust and ready to activate.
Finally, a nurture and activation programme to grow your network and bring it closer to the heart of your business.
It won't be an overnight change - but investing in working better together with your extended network of talent delivers benefits beyond just cost.