Currently, American businesses face a serious two-pronged problem. On the one hand, there is a massive talent shortage, which makes it difficult to hire qualified candidates. At the same time, most companies cannot offer higher and more attractive salaries to acquire top talent because they need to optimize labor costs.
In most cases, the solution to this problem is to hire qualified freelancers rather than full-time employees. A recent survey showed that tech companies are among the first to turn to independent contractors to save money while hiring top talent. In this survey, 71% of companies noted that hiring freelancers is ideal for staying agile in times of economic uncertainty, which is something all companies are looking for in today’s landscape.
However, onboarding remote contractors poses challenges. Businesses need to figure out how to integrate remotely in a fast, efficient, and compliant way, which raises some key questions that tech companies can address.
1. How can my company legally work with freelancers in all regions?
Each country has its own business laws and financial regulations, which can be difficult to organize, especially when hiring contractors from multiple regions.
For example, the legal working age is 14 in India but 18 in Indonesia. In Mexico, freelancers can only be hired for specific jobs, and in Malaysia it is forbidden to interact with Israel (and vice versa). That’s why it’s often worth outsourcing your freelance recruitment to companies that specifically follow these regulations.
Additionally, businesses can use streamlined and highly secure verification procedures. Companies like Sumsub offer extensive background checks and KYC processes, which ensure compliance.
2. How should my company set contract objectives and receive completed work?
With remote workers, it can be difficult to know how to establish a working relationship. Since you can’t come to their office for a status check, how do you manage to set goals and get work done on time?
The answer is with a clear and comprehensive contract. Sites like Rocket Lawyer and HoneyBook help businesses and contractors craft written expectations that cover confidentiality, ownership, explicit tasks and goals, transparent payment rates, and termination terms.
In these cases, it is better to explain the expectations too much, so that there is no room for further debate or confusion.
3. How do we measure contractor results and productivity?
The global pandemic has helped companies take a much-needed new look at how to assess the results of internal and contract employees. Rather than measuring value by the number of hours worked, companies are now measuring results and tracking time spent on each task.
Fortunately, there are a few solutions businesses can choose from. Services like TimeCamp or Quickbooks Time can be used to track billable hours and contractor productivity. These records can also help companies decide which entrepreneurs to develop full-time relationships with.
4. How do you communicate effectively with freelancers about deadlines? When should we use mediation to resolve disputes?
Although many freelancers are excellent workers who turn in their work on time, companies should have policies and procedures in place to handle difficult situations with contract workers.
Your company should set clear deadlines and set clear goals when setting up a new contract. This means determining things like hourly rates versus per-task rates and what services are included in those rates, such as the number of reviews or tests for a task.
Some platforms, like Solar Staff, keep payment in escrow and allow work time shifts if both parties agree. These services also offer outside mediation in the event that a completed contract is not considered sufficient by either party. Also, if you’re looking for a solution to help resolve disputes, the dispute rate is an important number: how many disputes has the service successfully resolved?
Companies always have the option of communicating directly with contractors via email or messaging programs such as Whatsapp and Slack. Nevertheless, it is usually best to keep communications on a verified service platform. Using a third-party service like this protects both freelancers and companies when it comes to meeting deadlines and disagreeing over work goals.
5. How can my business quickly and easily pay freelancers for completed work?
The issue of paying contractors is often the most complicated for businesses. Contractors are not considered the same as regular employees, so accounting departments must have detailed and accurate logs of how money is allocated.
For example, companies should ensure that all contractor payments for completed tasks are marked as salary budgets and not as payments to individuals. Additionally, since different regions of the world have their own tax and labor regulations, companies must ensure that they document every transaction accurately. In general, the top three issues companies face when paying cross-border contractors are:
How to navigate prepayment without a guarantee that the contractor will send the work.
How to reduce the time spent on cross-border payments to independent contractors.
How to speed up the payment process so that transactions arrive quickly rather than taking several weeks (as SWIFT payments often do).
In most cases, it is faster, easier and more efficient for companies to outsource this bookkeeping to a professional service. Third-party services that specialize in legal and financial compliance can help businesses stay compliant without additional paperwork or headaches.
Finally, it is also a good idea for accounting departments to maintain closing binders for each task so that accounting and bookkeeping processes run smoothly in the future.
According to the International Labor Organization, around 46.5% of the global workforce is self-employed. In the United States alone, freelancers are expected to make up more than half of the total workforce by 2028.
These numbers prove that contract workers are the future and construction contractor teams will soon be as common as in-house hiring. This shift in workforce means companies need to start overhauling their onboarding processes as soon as possible to stay relevant in the future.
Luckily, there are plenty of tech startups and solutions on the scene that are ready to help streamline the process of building a remote team, so working with freelancers doesn’t have to be a problem.