If you’re running a business, there’s a good chance you’ve considered hiring remote contractors listed on a remote online platform like TaskRabbit, Upwork or Freelancer, for instance.. After all, there are plenty of advantages to doing so—you can save on overhead costs, tap into a global pool of talent, and enjoy greater flexibility in scheduling. There are also some potential drawbacks to keep in mind.. And, based upon the drawbacks, we offer tips for companies to ensure top quality from gig workers hired to complete remote job tasks..
Proliferation of Remote Contractors Completing Remote Jobs from Anywhere
In 2017 (using 2016 data), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculated that less that 4% (about 6 million workers) held temporary freelancing, contracting or gig jobs in the US. This represents about 1.3% to about 4% of the total base of people employed. Shortly after BLS published its data, it provided a supplemental report on ‘electronically mediated’ temporary work to comprise independent contractors who used platforms such as Uber, Freelancer, UpWork, TaskRabbit to complete tasks for clients. These electronically mediated workers represent, according to BLS in 2018 roughly 1% of the total base of employed workers.
Here are the generally accepted characteristics of Electronically Mediated Temporary Workers according to BLS. These independent contractors:
- employ the use of a company’s website or mobile app to find and connect to customers for completion of short term jobs and tasks.
- receive payment for services through an online platform
- determine independently their own work schedule
- determines whether they will complete the short term jobs or tasks in person on virtually.
With regards to demographics, BLS also reported racial breakdowns of electronically mediated workers. It found that Blacks constituted about 17% of virtually delivered tasks and projects and 23% of the in person delivery of services; both constituting electronically mediated workforce. This is even though they represented just 12% of the total working population.
Concerning women participation in the gig economy, the Future of Work Report by AppJobs Institute independent contracting work is more popular among young adults between the ages of 21 years to 31 years, or younger. Further the data demonstrated that 50% of women in the gig economy workers about 10 to 30 hours per week while just 30% of the men worked 10 to 30 hours per week. Further the gig tasks completed by women world wide tended to be related to traditional roles held by women.
The Pros of Hiring Remote Contractors
1. You can save on overhead costs related to office infrastructure. When you hire remote contractors, companies don’t have to worry about paying for office space, equipment, or other traditional workplace expenses. It can be a significant advantage if you’re starting or looking to cut costs without compromising quality.
2. You can save of costs associated with employee benefits. When remote contractors are hired, firms no longer need to offer expensive employee benefit packages, tuition reimbursement, vacation and holiday pay, retirement plans, and paid sick leaves.
3. You are not obligated to retain the remote contractor once the short term task or project is completed. Companies can hire, retain and release a remote contractor working on a remote job task solely based upon the strict and specific task requirements. Therefore if the completed assignment is not up to standard, there is no obligation to retain the remote contractor or consider the remote contractor for future remote task assignments.
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4. You can tap into a global, national, regional, and local pool of talent. Businesses now have access to a virtually an unlimited and more diverse talent pool with the internet. So no matter what skill set you’re looking for, you’re sure to find someone with the right qualifications willing to work from home.
5. You can enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling. One of the benefits of hiring global remote contractors is that they often have more flexible schedules than traditional employees. It can be a significant advantage if you need to get work done outside of usual business hours or if you need someone available on short notice.
6. You can take advantage of the fact that remote workers may be more motivated to complete a project to the highest standards. As the finished work product completed by a remote worker working from home or from anywhere is not rated using seniority, years on the job, years of experience or who they know; you can expect a higher quality work product.
The Cons of Hiring Remote Contractors
1. There is potential for miscommunication. When you’re not working face-to-face with someone, it can be easy for miscommunications to occur. It can lead to frustration on both sides and may even result in errors or delays in completing the work.
2. It can be challenging to build relationships with remote workers. When your team members are spread out worldwide, it can be tough to build the same rapport and camaraderie you would if everyone were in the same office. As a result, it can make creating a cohesive team environment harder and may impact morale.
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3. Without the effective communication and establishment of strict task requirements, there can be a risk of lower quality work. When you’re hiring someone who is not physically present in your office, there is always a risk that the quality of their work will suffer as a result. But, again, providing guidance and feedback is more complex when your team members are not right in front of you.
Whether or not to hire remote contractors ultimately depends on what’s best for your business. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. Still, ultimately it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide what’s best for your company situationally speaking—hiring remote workers might not make sense for every business. Still, in some cases, it could be precisely what you need to take your company to the next level.
Planning for Remote Job Completion by a Remote Worker
1. Establish a realistic budget and time line for completion. As with traditional hiring, the cheapest applicant may be beneficial for the short term, but may pose problematic in the long term requiring added training due to costly mistakes made, clients lost, reputational harm, etc.
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2. Correctly define the task requirements by undergoing a job and/or task assessment. Poorly defined task requirements lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.
3. Accurately pinpoint the mandatory skills needed to complete the task and delineate them from skills that are preferred but not required.
4. Make no assumptions about the devices, equipment availability, broadband, internet speed, network security availed by the remote worker; conduct a pre-assessment as a condition prior to contract engagement.
5. Deftly understand and outline the assumptions or general conditions under which the task will be completed. For instance, if you want to hire a remote worker to help you with remote job tasks relating to marketing to the federal government, have a working knowledge of FAR (federal acquisition regulations).
6. Be accessible and establish regular milestones and daily checkins so that the remote worker can relay to you any barriers they have discovered, barriers that have arisen, or lacking resources.
7. Consider dividing payment based upon beginning task completion, mid point task completion and end point task completion so that the remote worker will be engaged throughout the contract term.
8. Once a good working relationship has been established with a remote worker, maintain a list for the assignment of future work.
9. At the conclusion of the remote job assignment ask for an exit interview of after action plan. Ask what worked well, what did not work well, and how the process could be improved.
10. Provide an outstanding reference when the assignment went well and a honest assessment when it did not.