Remote Freelance Work: 4 Myths You Should Be Aware Of

Remote Freelance Work: 4 Myths You Should Be Aware Of


As technology evolves and the economy becomes increasingly globalised, it’s no surprise that remote freelance work is on the rise. Workers, disenchanted traditional work models and dwindling full-time job security, are opting for the flexibility and comfort of remote freelance jobs.

Today, 34% of the U.S. workforce is freelancing, up 6% from two years ago. Studies even estimate that 50% of the workforce will be freelancing by 2020.This shift marks a core change in how people work and businesses operate and has caused some to compare it to the Industrial Revolution. With the ease of matching talent with businesses and the advent of shared workspace in many major cities, the barriers to remote freelance work have been lowered considerably.

Still, despite these statistics, there are still myths floating around discouraging the use of freelance remote workers. With the trend being so new and reliant on technology, it’s no surprise that some still consider working with remote freelancers a gamble. Though myths might be essential to how people make sense of the new and opaque, they are mainly fictional and a result of misinformation.

Myth 1: Offshore Freelancers Aren’t As Good As Domestic Talent

Since the remote freelancer network is global, you will have the opportunity to vet and hire workers from outside of the U.S. if you use the freelance marketplace. And though the myth that domestic workers are better than their international counterparts persists, the numbers show otherwise.

Related: Why Time Management is Just a Waste of Time

After all, U.S. students have ranked in the middle of the pack worldwide, landing at 29th in science, 22nd in math, and 19th in reading the last several years. These numbers point to a growing trend, the U.S. education system is not getting worse, just being outpaced.

There is no reason to believe then that offshore freelancers are incapable of performing as well as the homegrown. They are as well-trained and adaptable, if not more so.


Myth 2: Differences in Language and Timezone are Insurmountable

There are shades of truth to this myth. It would be impossible to deny that an English-speaking business located in New York and running on Eastern Standard Time would run into difficulties utilising a Mandarin-speaking freelancer in Beijing.

Communicating effectively with your workers is essential in any work situation, and even small misunderstandings or missed subtleties in language can result in problems down the line.

These issues are only exacerbated when workers are remote. However, with a highly rigorous and exacting screening process, you can find the best possible freelancer equipped with the proper language faculties. As far as time zone issues, there is an ever-growing throng of tools available to aid in asynchronous communication such as Trello and Hackpad.

Plus, you only ever need a few hours of overlap in working hours to sync up, and you benefit from having your team work around the clock. In reality, there are tons of success stories from companies dedicated to adjusting their practices to accommodate remote workers, even successful, 100% remote companies with 50-plus global employees.

Myth 3: Remote Workers Don’t Integrate Well

A remote freelancer’s ability to integrate with your team comes down to the quality of the freelancer. The best will be experienced with remote work, which means they’ll be independent and self-directed, as well as socially and professionally perceptive, and, according to Harvard Business Review, they will be more committed to working with you to overcome any hurdle.

They’ll likely communicate consistently through a variety of avenues and will be cognisant of the problems associated with the absence of nonverbal cues. On your end, accommodate your freelancers as best as possible and, most importantly, trust them and give them space to make their own decisions.

Given the likelihood of remote workers’ non-traditional schedules and time differences, it’s easy for them to feel isolated by management that requires constant consent. Avoid forming relationships in which your freelancers twiddle their thumbs, waiting for you to okay their ideas.

Related: Lessons From A Freelancer

Myth 4: Remote Workers Work Less and Are Inefficient

Without the face-to-face monitoring made possible by the physical office, it’s easy to imagine that remote workers are constantly walking back and forth from the fridge, stopping to cuddle their pets, and are the last-to-arrive and first-to-leave.

The truth is that remote workers keep longer hours and are more efficient compared to their in-office counterparts. Businesses reported losses of $600 billion a year due to office distractions and major companies found that their remote workers are up to 45% more productive.

According to the data crunchers at Gallup, remote workers average 4 more work hours per week than their on-site peers. Due to the emergence of remote work-oriented tools like Basecamp and Time Doctor, it’s never been easier for companies to set goals and monitor progress remotely.

The Takeaway

With these myths dispelled, you should now be primed to dive into the remote work marketplace and find your ideal freelancer, a cost-effective move that opens up your options greatly.

Is the best candidate available within commuting distance from your office? Not likely. Remember the above realities of remote work and broaden your horizons, but don’t forget to take the time to consider how to empower remote workers to add the most value.

Trust them, communicate, utilise collaboration tools, and tweak practices as you go to ensure that you and your remote freelancers can succeed together.

Josh Althuser
Josh Althuser is a tech entrepreneur and open source advocate specializing in providing mentorship for startups. You may connect with him on Twitter.