The changing workplace scenario has put the spotlight on freelancers. Several organisations prefer freelancers for monetary reasons or to avoid full-time employee hiring. However, freelancing is a double-edged sword. While it has benefits for the ones not wanting to be tied to a desk, there are also monetary setbacks. Thus arises a need to tie loose ends for a good working relationship between the parties involved.
Walk the talk Gulrayz Punjabi, Founder/Chief Growth Officer of Peanut Butter, comes straight to the point. “Freelancers have a tough time managing clients, finances, business development, pitching, negotiating, servicing, and following up on payments, mostly all at once. The workflow is overwhelming when the business is excellent. But they have periods of no work. It creates doubt, apprehension, and financial safety net.”
Of course, there is the quintessential aspect of freelancers missing out on employment benefits. They are expected to work 24/7 and on any day needed.
Veteran PR Professional Shailesh K. Nevatia, founder of Grandeavour Communication, New Delhi, knows the freelancer story well. “First one is trust and credibility. The pandemic has affected one and all. With many companies shutting down, some have taken cost-cutting routes, etc. Many were bound to start on their own,” he shares.
The competitive work scenario means the expectation of quality work at fewer fees. There are a few who have work ethics. However, competition means freelancers undergo a crisis due to a lack of well-paying and right opportunities.
Rajiv Talreja, Asia’s leading business coach, reveals, “The biggest challenge most freelancers face is because they are the ones who are servicing their clients. They do not end up doing marketing and sales consistently. They are passionate about delivering good quality service to their customers but are not equally passionate or invested in going out there for marketing and selling.”
Most freelancers know their work life doesn’t change much for weeks or months. Dr Snehal Shriwastava, Director – HR & Operations, Proton Communications, reveals, “Sometimes they’ll be busy, and other times, they’ll have unwanted free time. It could also mean that there is no consistency in income. It could lead to immense stress. Companies also face several challenges working with freelancers – the foremost being inconsistent availability for work. Some freelancers might be unavailable when the client would want to engage with them.”
These factors mean the outcome
required from the freelancer is not as achieved. There are missed deadlines, along with data security and misuse risks. The other noteworthy issues include low-balling, payment timelines, advances, project timelines, and over-expectations.
Talreja carries his discussion on the lack of marketing and selling. “When freelancers are with potential clients, who they have received through word-of-mouth referrals, they are desperate to close the deal, which lowers their bargaining power in terms of pricing and payment terms. When organisations engage with freelancers without a proper quality check system and appoint freelancers based on pricing, they will never get the desired quality at the price they want. If you are not willing to pay that price, you pay a bigger price by hiring people with no track record or the capability to deliver quality.”
Talreja is clear that if organisations are outsourcing their work, there must be a clear division regarding quality standards and parameters. It is the only thing that will make them engage with capable and credible freelancers rather than the fly-by-night ones.
Punjabi suggests companies hiring freelancers must provide a doable timetable and favourable payment for the work involved. “Payment terms should also be clear and released on time as freelancers are impacted heavily by delays.”
Freelancers must build credibility, a decent social-digital profile, good networking and details on the client. It enables companies, HR and others to trust their associates, partners and so on. The HR and organisational heads play a role in this entire sequence of dealing with the freelancers who deserve the same respect as the ‘partner in growth’ as full-time employees.
Shriwastava mentions, “A healthy working relationship must be established with effective communication. Both parties should insist on a contract mentioning the deliverables in-depth and a detailed roadmap of the process. It will ensure that the work gets done in the stipulated time for the organisation and the freelancer. It could mean timely and full payments.”