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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Remote Freelance Work: 4 Myths You Should Be Aware Of

Below are 4 myths about remote freelance workers and the realities that debunk them.

Josh Althuser

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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.

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

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success

What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?

Marc Wachsberger

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South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.

Be smart about scale

When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.

At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.

However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.

Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick

Know your talents – and your limitations

There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!

Use your skills – but know when to hand over

My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.

In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks

This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

Lisa Illingworth

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“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.

The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.

Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.

In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.

Related: 5 Infamous Risks Every Entrepreneur Must Face

Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.

I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.

None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

Nicholas Bell

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For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

1. Believable vision

Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.

2. Be inclusive

You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.

Related: 4 Ways To Improve Your Budgeting Skills

3. Communication is critical

If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.

4. Be visible and transparent

You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.

5. Be practical

You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.

Related: Crucial Skills You Need To Be An Entrepreneur

6. Build opportunities

As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.

7. Be human

It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.

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