Savvy entrepreneurs don’t need a pep talk on the importance of utilising virtual services to grow their businesses – they’re already using them, many of them for quite some time now.
In the US alone, one in three workers is reported to be working freelance according to The Freelancers Union, between 2009 and 2013, 15 percent of national job growth was in temporary employment and by 2020, over 50 percent of all working professionals are expected to be working as freelancers.
Virtual services are no longer limited to admin and related tasks and we can expect to see the number of business organisations utilising virtual services increase as the years go by; in fact, the number of business organisations using virtual service providers has increased at such a rapid rate it’s surprising there are many about that aren’t yet utilising virtual services to their advantage.
Major corporations weren’t the first to utilise virtual services but many, including the likes of Apple, Chevron, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, have taken to them in a big way, here are three reasons why.
There’s a lot of money to be saved
Hiring, not to mention firing, employees is a costly endeavour so why not do away with hiring in the first place?
In addition to avoiding the recruitment process – advertising, screening, interviewing, trialling, etc. – you can also do away with fulltime wages, benefits, health insurance, workspace and related costs by hiring someone by the hour or project.
Outsourcing to talented freelancers helps you to cut costs, provide more cost-competitive products and services and maximise business profits. As Susan Saurage of Saurage Research in Houston Texas notes, “I want to draw on the right people when I need them, but I do not need them 40 hours a week.”
The most talented individuals are now accessible
The pool of talent continues to swell as more and more talented individuals leave the corporate world and become freelancers, enjoying the many benefits afforded to them by working at home.
You can access top talent from all four corners of the globe on outsourcing platforms like Elance and oDesk, freeing your business of geographical restraints that once forced business organisations to base themselves in major cities where talented individuals once migrated to in droves.
With outsourcing, it no longer matters where your business is based since you can access top talent wherever you are – all you need is an internet connection and the right communication platforms, i.e. videoconferencing, VoIP, social media, etc. Says Gary Swart, oDesk’s CEO, “Now, the Internet can bring the work to the worker, rather than the worker to work.”
This trend also has benefits for business organisations that need talent for specific projects whose skillsets lie outside their organisation.
For instance, should your business require the talents of a software developer, an editor or an article writer with particular skillsets, you can connect with them online, discuss rates and terms and hire them for the project, providing your organisation with fresh perspectives and filling in the knowledge gaps it needs to compete on the same playing field as larger, better funded business organisations.
However, there’s an inherent need to source the right people and you therefore need to be discerning, “You need to find partners who share your values, and it is really important to talk about these values upfront,” says Susan Abbott of Abbott Research.
Risks can be mitigated to a great extent
In addition to avoiding the costly recruitment process and no longer having to fork out for fulltime wages and benefits like health insurance, you’re also empowered to avoid the legal conundrums businesses face when they hire fulltime employees.
What happens if the economy slows down and business dwindles? You’re still obligated to pay fulltime wages and benefits and that could destabilise the financial security of your organisation, so by hiring freelancers by the hour or project you’re better able to mitigate risks and weather periods of financial turbulence.
This has proved especially advantageous for businesses that experience peak demand and corresponding seasonal slumps, because their ‘freelance roster’ empowers them to take on more staff when demand is high and reduce their numbers when demand is low.
This not only helps them budget for wages and manpower hours, it also empowers them to budget for the amount of office space they hire, the amount of equipment they need to purchase and maintain, and also engage in more accurate financial forecasting.
It’s safe to say that we can expect to see virtual services growing in importance for the abovementioned reasons and many more, “We think we’re at the tip of the iceberg,” says Swart of oDesk, “We anticipate 5x growth in five years,” and he’s not alone there – many businesspeople believe freelancing and virtual services are the way of the future.
Juliet Martin is a freelance writer for Regus UK, a company that provides small to large businesses with quality meeting venues and office spaces. They also have virtual solutions to offer.