Exploring Remote Working: Hiring Freelancers, Benefits & Risks

Balancing between Remote and Hiring Freelancers

Image by Sepehr Ehsani

Remote is about doing a job remotely, i.e. not face to face, and one area that remote working has revolutionized is the hiring of freelancers. Since it has also revealed some of the challenges that come with hiring freelancers, I’d like to explore two commonly perceived shortcomings of hiring a freelancer and what having a well thought out remote staffing strategy can do to help mitigate these challenges.

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Based on the Small Business Association’s definition, independent contractors are free to set their own hours. This means that you can’t choose when and where they should work; all you can do is set deadlines that they can and will agree with. Being results-oriented is great, but so is being able to reach someone and collaborate during your own working hours.

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And why would they?

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The internet has revolutionized work, meaning that a freelancer is now about to sit in front of his PC and serve multiple clients all around the world at the same time (by heather). This carries some risks though, as typically employers don’t like their employees to serve two masters –or worse, two competitors.

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I’m not saying that hiring freelancers is a bad thing – it isn’t. In fact, a lot of companies benefit from these free agent workers. dns database But, as with everything that has to do with the Remote Revolution, it is important to understand the differences and then use Remote in a way that is best for your company.

What else is great or risky about hiring remote freelancers? Look forward to comments.

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Exploring “Remote”: Some definitions

I’d like to kick off my first post by going over a few definitions. If you’re new to the concept of “Hiring Remote” or are just getting acquainted with what I and many others are referring to as “The Remote Revolution”, then this post is a great starting point.  If you’re not new to the concept, but have been getting pummeled by all the buzzwords surrounding remote workers lately, then I really look forward to your feedback in the comments section on if you think this post makes sense, and what you think of when you hear “Remote”.


What is “Remote” and what is it not?

  1. Remote doesn’t have to be synonymous with “work from home.”

Yes, working from home is a major and growing phenomenon and is only possible due to The Remote Revolution, however Remote can also refer to doing a quick video chat with your colleagues in France or China, all of whom are sitting in an office on the other side of the world but communicating as if they were sitting right next to you.  That’s Remote – when not having face-to-face  professional interactions becomes a non-issue.


  1. Remote is bigger than online freelancers.

Being an online freelancer or hiring an online freelancer is one way to leverage the power of Remote… but it is not the only way.  The existence of Remote simply means that it has become easier to hire someone without ever meeting them physically and without ever having them show up at your office.  Freelancing is one area that has been revolutionized by Remote, and not the other way around (by heather).  A freelancer that previously was restricted to performing his or her services locally, now has instant access to global clientele.  All because of the power of Remote.


  1. Remote doesn’t have to mean far away or in a different country.

A remote worker or remote employee could be down the road from you, or on the other side of the world. The whole point of “Remote” and The Remote Revolution is that work no longer has to be face-to-face, period.  Remote technologies, productivity tools, globalization, the rise of Globish, and of course, at the core of all this, the internet, have enabled us to work and interact in ways that were not even imaginable 20 year ago.  This means that I can Skype with people on my team while I’m at home on a sick day, or it means that I can do a Google Hangout group chat with developers located offshore in the Philippines, India and Poland all at the same time.


  1. Remote Workers come in a diverse range of types.

As mentioned earlier, online  freelancers are one way in which you as a business leader can leverage remote, but they are certainly not the only way.  In fact, hiring online freelancers often isn’t an appropriate solution to talent challenges.  Higher levels of risk, task-orientation and multi-client models (I’ll address all of these in later posts) are all reasons to go a different route.  (Disclaimer:  I own and run a Remote Staffing firm in which our workers work inside our offices and support clients on a dedicated and long term basis across business functions such as IT, HR, Finance & Accounting, Procurement, among others.)


Other types of Remote Workers include but are not limited to:

  • Professionals who work from home but are full time employees of the company they work for
  • You, whenever you open up your PC or smartphone when you’re not at the office, are a Remote Worker


I’ll wrap up this post by quoting a few varied definitions from others out there… I have also included links as I believe the full articles are worth reading:

  • “As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can.” –> 37 Signals, who as you may realize from a quick Google is extremely pro-Remote (Great article by one of the brilliant 37 signals guys here:  http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3064-stop-whining-and-start-hiring-remote-workers)
  • “…entrepreneurial individuals.  They can operate as a larger company, and search worldwide for talent. And workers [are not tied to] their local economy.” –> Fabio Rosati, CEO, Elance (http://getpocket.com/a/read/302436045)
  • “Remote employment is the practice of hiring employees who perform work for your company from their own location – not within the walls of your office. Remote employees can be freelance workers or exclusive salaried employees who do not contract with anyone else.” – youngentrepreneur.com (http://www.youngentrepreneur.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-hiring-remote-employees/)
  • “Hiring remotely opens you up to an enormous pool of people who can’t move. I can’t stress this enough: for every one person who is in your location or is happy to move there, there are 100 more who are not.” – David Fullerton, StackExchange (http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/02/why-we-still-believe-in-working-remotely/)


All for now, and welcome to The Remote Revolution blog.

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