The news of Microsoft laying off employees and Google slowing down hiring has shaken Silicon Valley, and ripples are being felt in the Indian tech market too. Since the pandemic-imposed work from the home era has come to an end, companies are also facing high attrition, with employees holding multiple offer letters, and cherry-picking roles that pay the best, give exciting projects, or a better title! Many techies confess to updating their resumes on job portals to send HR into panic mode and get a raise, project, or promotion of their choice.
Both employers and employees are still on the path to recovery, finding a balance. Many of the techies who were laid offer or those who are unwilling to go back to full-time work now picking freelance projects. These projects are coming from multinational companies, MSMEs and start-ups.
A new kind of corporate reshuffle is happening where the traditional company structure is deconstructed to make way for a new hiring structure. It may be called the hybrid workforce, where along with full-time in-house employees, the businesses will be onboarding many gig workers or freelancers on a project-based engagement. These temporary hires, that is, freelancers, are microentrepreneurs for whom the business is the client and not an employer.
Freelancers or microentrepreneurs are available for hire by anyone. You may be a large business looking for freelancers with specific skill sets, a start-up that needs tech intervention, or an MSME that is looking for a software developer. Freelancers can be engaged on short notice by businesses to work for them. The entire hassle of the line of interviews, onboarding formalities, and salary breakdown to include HRA and other expenses are replaced with a straightforward agreement for terms of services highlighting liability, the scope of work, period of work, payment schedules, and non-disclosure.
Resource-constrained start-ups and MSMEs are benefiting most from associating with micro-entrepreneurs.
Most start-ups cannot afford the salaries and perks that experienced techies are accustomed to. The scope of work is also limited compared to the number of responsibilities and workload most software developers in specialist roles expect at that stage of their careers. Hiring them as freelance consultants to develop and deploy the project can limit spending on manpower. The top three reasons that businesses have quoted for hiring freelancers are –
Domain expertise has ranked higher than costs and overheads because that is where most MSMEs and start-ups are left challenged. Especially, in a market where having a sound tech presence defines business success and aids its accelerated growth.
What is the business goal of an MSME? At the basic level, for all MSMEs, the business goal is to grow their market size to national and international levels. Even businesses that will fare strongly regionally, want to expand their markets and reach the highest number of target customers. How do they achieve this? In the 21st century, it is by leveraging software technologies and internet-enabled solutions. Whether it is business process improvement, management efficiency, marketing or any other domain, software solutions provide seamless business process integration, transparency, and speed.
There is a great demand for freelance software developers for –
While many of these tasks are short-term assignments, some require regular intervention. For businesses whose core product or service is not IT-related, they require sporadic tech intervention for which they prefer to retain freelancers in their resource-pool, to be engaged on an as-is basis.
Full-time employees with a level of experience and domain expertise required to handle a complete project end-to-end will be out of reach for the average start-up or MSME. If they are engaged as freelancers, the company must pay a single amount as professional fees, with no separate rates for relocation, insurance, and other expenses for hiring.
There are many rapid hiring engagement models for freelancers, most of which are facilitated by freelance job sites. The company can upload their project or business proposal and freelancers can bid, compete, or straightforwardly apply for the position by sending in their resumes and proposals. With these alternatives, the company can rapidly sift through profiles and proposals to find the right candidate and directly contact them. There are very few onboarding formalities, and these can be completed in a day once negotiations are done.
Freelancers are professionals with core skills in their field. For instance, SAP developers or Web developers on any single platform have deep domain expertise. They have the right qualifications, and work experience, applying their skills to businesses of various sizes and from different industries. The business benefits immensely from this expertise. Even the freelancers are invested in the success of the project as microentrepreneurs whose reputation is tied to the work.
As much as freelancers gain from working on the project in terms of experience, even the business benefits from the freelancer’s experience. They can train the in-house teams and show novel ways to work. It is a win-win situation for the client and the freelancer.
Freelancers cannot be hired for all roles in a company. Some roles require the employee to take ownership or deal with sensitive business information. A hybrid work model is the most conducive solution as the business has human resource assets who are invested in the company, and they have freelancers stepping in to bridge the skill gap. This is the present and future for businesses of all sizes and MSMEs and start-ups can benefit immensely by adopting this model from their early stages.