We asked ChatGPT about the downside of working with freelancers.
Whilst we don't really care what an AI thinks about working with us - as ChatGPT is built upon hundreds of thousands of articles of content online, it does give us the 'stereotypical' view on things, so we wanted to see what negative preconceptions exist about working with freelancers.
Here's what ChatGPT had to say - and how we'd challenge each point.
Lack of commitment: Freelancers are not employees, so they may not have the same level of commitment to your project or organization as a full-time employee would.
In general - we find the opposite is true. Freelancers reputation is based upon doing the best possible work, so commitment to the project will often be higher than an employee who has to do the work - freelancers generally take on projects they're excited about and want to do. Secondly, without commitment, the freelancer isn't getting paid. They'll be there to see the job through to the end. They're guaranteed commitment, rather than employees who can so often be frustrated and jaded by their employer.
Communication difficulties: Freelancers may be working remotely or in a different time zone, which can make communication difficult. This can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and other issues.
Communication difficulties from working remotely or different timezones are not an issue for freelancers, but anyone working remotely or in different timezones. Again, freelancers will go out of their way to make sure communication is effective and clear, as it's essential to allow us to do a good job. Putting effective communication in place with your collaborators is essential though - and it's something that takes work - but that's true, no matter what employment contract you have in place.
Quality control: As a client, it can be challenging to ensure consistent quality when working with multiple freelancers, especially if they are working independently.
Quality control is an issue if you've not properly established what good looks like. With employees, there's an understanding it will take them some time to get up to speed on how your company works. With freelancers, they need to understand your ways of working and quality level quickly - so often it can be faster to get a freelancer up to scratch than an employee. Consistency of quality comes from building a relationship with a trusted bank of freelancers who you work with regularly - which is why its so important to build a network ahead of the brief, rather than just a random LinkedIn search. And good clear briefing too - ensuring you're communicating what quality means to you - saves time on every project.
Dependability: Freelancers may not always be available when you need them. They may have other projects, personal obligations, or simply be unreliable.
Absolutely true - freelancers may not always be available - which is another reason for building a network of trusted collaborators, rather than over reliance on a single individual. But that doesn't mean working with freelancers cannot be dependable. It means that your way of working with fluid talent cannot simply have an 'on-demand' mindset, but rather a workforce you invest into ahead of the need.
Legal and financial risks: Freelancers are self-employed, which means they are responsible for their own taxes, insurance, and other financial obligations. Clients may also face legal risks if they do not properly classify and pay their freelancers.
This is of course a risk - and if you're not aware of obligations around aspects of working with freelancers like IR35, you are at risk. Again, this is a reason to have a strategic approach to working with freelancers, not just hope for the best. Generally, if you're working with freelancers in the most effective way, outside of IR35, the risk falls to your collaborators, not you.
Coordination and management: Managing multiple freelancers can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring a lot of coordination and project management skills.
Most freelancers will integrate effectively in to your existing project management process and ways of working as a team - working independently, hitting deadlines you set, communicating in the way you ask. If you're not managing a project effectively, then all of your people involved will struggle, not just the freelancers.
Lack of loyalty: Freelancers are not necessarily committed to your organization in the long term, which means they may be more likely to jump ship for a better opportunity.
In practise, we find when clients build an effective and supportive relationship with a client, they're often very loyal and will continue to work with you over the long term. "A better opportunity" is most likely to translate to where the client is more supportive and collaborative. Freelancers rarely 'jump ship', unless something the relationship is truly damaging.
Beyond the perception that freelancers are 'less dependable' and 'less committed' - all of the hurdles which ChatGPT has raised are valid concerns that your way of engaging with external collaborators needs to factor in. If you don't have a defined process for finding, onboarding and working with freelancers, you are likely to run into these challenges - but a little bit of design removes these preconceptions, and unlocks your ability to work with a trusted, talented, motivated and capable network of trusted freelancers over time.
Drop us a line if you're keen to challenge these assumptions too, and would like to understand how The Independency Co. can help you avoid thinking like an AI, and engage freelancers in a more effective way.