Since I left university, I’ve been running my own business and freelancing.
I knew early on that the 9 to 5 life wasn’t for me and almost nine years on, I’m living the contractor life and loving it.
It may seem somewhat of an exaggeration, but when I think of a permanent, full time role in an office, the walls start to cave in.
The freedom, the flexibility and the control I have as a freelancer is what keeps me motivated and committed to my chosen career path.
At times, when work is slow or quiet, I toy with the idea of the security and structure of an ongoing role. But that’s just not me!
I like that no day is ever the same and I thrive on the constant change and diversity in my work.
In recent discussions about seeking work and different approaches to working life, the conversation kept coming back to full time work or long-term contracts.
When I apply for freelance gigs and short-term contracts and say that I’m not looking for ongoing work past the contract, the lead goes cold.
It’s also frustrating when businesses offer a contract of three months, but what they really seek is to absorb you into the team, long-term.
Yet, some of us have chosen the freelance life for a reason and I have seen first-hand the benefits that contractors bring to a business.
Experts also agree that freelance workers bring value to a business and that companies should be more open-minded about hiring contractors.
Freelancing is becoming a sound career option
Cynthia Harris, founder of Heart Recruitment, is passionate about the value of freelancers.
“Freelancers bring new energy, flexibility, adaptability, a fresh perspective, and the ability to ‘get on with’ what needs to be done – without getting bogged down or held back by the challenges and pressure that full time/ long-term employees might have,” she said.
Dave Bentley, CEO and co-founder of Cavalry Freelancing, runs a platform that streamlines how companies find and work with freelancers in the advertising and digital industry.
Bentley said that by creating a platform and marketplace specifically for freelancers, it allows organisations to be more strategic and forward-planning in how they approach freelancers.
When discussing if freelancers are simply using contracts as an introduction or stepping stone to full time employment, Harris said it was sometimes the case, but generally not.
“Some people do contract work when they are in between permanent roles. Some use contracting as an opportunity to learn about a new industry before making a longer-term commitment. Some people are career freelancers; they love the variety and freedom of this type of work,” Harris said.
Freelancing is a compelling option for the career driven because it offers more than a healthy day rate and the ability to work remotely, Bentley adds.
“Historically, freelancers were more likely to come in to provide capacity support in well-established teams, either when there was a surplus of work or when someone was on holiday. Now, I think more and more people are seeing freelancing as a legitimate career choice,” he said.
And recent trends suggest that career freelancers might be onto something, Harris said.
“The ‘gig’ economy and having a ‘portfolio career’ might just be the future of work. I read a statistic that less than 10 per cent of Australians work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday,” she said.
“One of my contractors, who is currently working with a client in Sydney, is doing just that. She’s come in as a fresh pair of eyes and has delivered incredible value in a short space of time – the client loves her.”
How freelancers and contractors add value
Beyond fulfilling short-term needs, freelancers and contractors add value to an organisation in a number of ways, including:
At times there’s more work than the team can handle. Freelancers and contractors help to manage the work flow and allow businesses to quickly expand or decrease the team as needed.
Contractors bring in a fresh pair of eyes and can often help see the way around a roadblock in a project or bring in new processes to help a team structure work better together.
“Freelancers often join a team and have deliverables that are critical to a business project. There is an absolute need for that skill and their contribution is critical, especially when in medium-to- smaller businesses where every person, every hour and every dollar counts,” Bentley said.
Due to the nature of their ever-changing work climate, freelancers pick up a host of skills very quickly. Freelancers bring with them not only their primary profession, but also unique skills and experiences from a broad range of companies and industries.
Companies can keep costs down by hiring freelancers only when needed. Contractors also don’t require additional costs like holiday pay, sick leave and superannuation contributions, as they handle these elements themselves. So once the fee is agreed, they simply get on with the job.
Have you worked as a contractor? Or have you hired freelancers? What were some of the benefits you experienced? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.