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Should You Hire Freelancers or Full-Time Employees?

Should You Hire Freelancers or Full-Time Employees?

If you’re working exceedingly long hours and still can’t keep up with the demands of your business, you need to get help. Many options are available, from outsourced services to freelance professionals to full- or part-time employees. Which to choose depends on where your pain points are and what plans you have for the future growth of your business.

Hiring pros and cons

Because they work on an as-needed basis, hiring a freelancer is a good option when you have a specific specialized task or set of tasks from time to time that need to be done promptly. These could be design-related tasks or business operations tasks. When you need ongoing dedicated assistance with core design or business activities, you’re better off hiring an employee.

Although freelancers, especially experienced professionals, often charge more per hour than what an employee earns, the overall cost is much lower. Freelancers are responsible for paying their own taxes, insurance and benefits. Plus, you have no overhead expenses, such as office space and equipment. You only pay them when you engage them for a particular task. If you’re not satisfied with their work, you can more easily cut ties with them.

On the other hand, because they serve many clients, freelancers may not always be available when you need them. They may be less engaged and less committed to the success of your business than a full-time employee. They also may be less communicative and more difficult to supervise than an employee. They might not “get” your business unless you engage them long-term, so using a freelancer may be best for tasks that don’t require an employee-level knowledge of your internal systems and traditions.

Many employers have long-term relationships with the same freelancers and consider them an integral part of their team. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to establish relationships with several freelancers for tasks that often need to be completed on short notice. If your first choice is temporarily unavailable, you can call on another.

A freelancer for every need

The shift to remote work during the pandemic generated new opportunities for professionals who wanted an alternative to corporate jobs. Today, you can find a freelancer for nearly any task, no matter how niche. Among those most relevant to interior design firms are CAD and visualization specialists, photographers, graphic designers, website designers, and content creators for blogs and social media. In addition, many freelancers offer ongoing supportive services. These include bookkeeping and accounting, human resources and payroll, public relations and communications, marketing and branding, and technology assistance.

An employee for every day

Some freelancers offer design, drafting, rendering, speccing, and procurement services. They can be useful in case of an emergency—say, when an employee is ill or injured. For the most part, though, you want to hire an employee for any kind of ongoing, day-to-day core competency tasks or responsibilities. That may also include business personnel, such as an office assistant or manager, if you have several employees.

Taking on a full-time employee involves higher initial costs and a higher level of compensation. However, in the long run those employees nearly always generate more revenue than what they consume. Over time, they are able to contribute more and so should be seen not as an expense but as an investment in your business.

Personnel are personnel

Bear in mind that whether you decide to engage a freelance professional or hire a full-time employee, some human resource issues still apply. Consider how you’ll work them into your budget and business plan. Plan on spending some time onboarding that individual to acquaint them with your firm’s mission, values and objectives. Dedicate time in your schedule for supervising that individual and possibly providing training. Also, consult your human resources specialist or accountant on what your obligations and liabilities are regarding taxes and tax reporting for that individual.

Freelancer, employee, or both

Which type of help you decide to use will likely depend in part on the workload in your firm. Some sole practitioners prefer to work with freelancers on an as-needed basis rather than add employees to their team. Some smaller firms rely primarily on one or two full-time employees. They may outsource some operational tasks, such as bookkeeping or administration. Many firms, though, have a team of full-time employees that they supplement with freelancers for specialized tasks. That gives them more flexibility and access to additional expertise and skill sets. It also frees up employees to do more of what they are best at and to bill more hours. It’s a winning combination for driving revenue and growth.

Want to know more about hiring? Check out our Ultimate Hiring Guide for Interior Design Firms.

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