Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack
Tasia, organizing events and team buildings may require lots of contingent workers over a short period of time. Is this the rationale for hiring gig workers and freelancers?
We love hiring gig and freelance workers at The Great Guac Off and Museum Hack and have done so since we first opened our doors in 2013. From web design and maintenance to social media posts to SEO content to on-the-ground last-minute help with event coordination and operation of our team building activities, we have used freelancers in dozens of different ways to continue to keep our operations flowing smoothly and drive our business forward.
We hire freelancers for a variety of different reasons; one of the biggest factors in why we turn to contractors is to protect the time and maximize the output of our full-time staff. We often find that we have lots of small or ongoing projects that outside contractors can easily perform with little oversight. These are projects that may bog down our full-time employees and prevent them from focusing on higher-level work that will have a bigger impact on moving our business forward. By outsourcing these projects to freelancers, we are able to free up our staff to spend their time on work that will have a greater benefit to the business and maximize our company’s return on investment.
We are constantly looking for ways to run more efficiently and identifying projects that can be outsourced to contractors is a key part of ensuring our business is operating as effectively as possible. Our senior leadership team holds regular meetings with department managers; part of each check-in is spent focusing on pinpointing work that could be better sent to a freelancer to help keep each department driving bigger initiatives forward.
Outsourcing to independent contractors keeps the core team focused on big projects but aren’t freelancers and contingent workers less motivated and loyal than full-time employees?
In our experience, freelancers are often more motivated when it comes to completing projects because they view us as a client rather than as an employer.
Freelancers recognize that we are a business who values contract work and realize there is an opportunity to earn ongoing projects with us. With strong and reliable performance, there’s a very good chance we’ll continue to send them open projects and offer more work as our need arises. (And we do! We love rewarding good work; one of our contractors has worked with us for close to two years).
We’ve also discovered that using freelancers helps to keep our full-time employees motivated in their own way.
Every business has routine projects that are simply unavoidable; someone has to do them. By outsourcing work that has come to feel repetitive or tiresome to our full-time staff, we’re helping to keep the projects that are on their plate fresh and engaging. This keeps their workload from feeling like it is growing stale and stagnant; by giving employees the opportunity to speak up about what could be sent to a freelancer, we’re allowing them to take more ownership in their job duties and to become engaged in opportunities that feel fresh, high value, and interesting to them -- and that has a bigger payoff to our business. For us, finding reliable contractors to perform smaller projects is a win-win-win for our company, our employees, and our freelancers.
What happens when there are a lot of small projects but the freelancers you worked with before are engaged with another client? Do you think that freelancers having more than one client add value to the company by bringing in fresh ideas and innovation?
In the six-plus years that we’ve been working with contractors, we’ve found that our best freelancers are those who operate with the “one-year consultant” mindset. It often helps if our freelancers have more than one client in their stable; it means their time is valuable and they must be as efficient as possible with the amount of time they have available to put into our work in an effort to keep all of their clients satisfied.
This lends itself to thinking like a business consultant and it’s our biggest piece of advice to freelancers looking to wow clients. Business consultants often do not have the luxury of time. They are brought in to assess a situation, ask questions, and create fierce action plans designed to address any uncovered issues quickly and directly. Consultants are tasked with achieving the maximum possible results in the shortest amount of time; when freelancers operate as if they only have one year to present their best possible work, they create the largest positive impact in the fastest way.
These are the freelancers we like to work with time and time again. They may have multiple clients in their portfolio at any given time, but they are dedicated to maximizing their output in the timespan they do afford us.
That’s an interesting point of view! Full-time jobs are no longer making promises of either professional or financial security to today’s workforce. Do you think that the gig economy is the future?
The gig economy has a place in our economic future. Today’s businesses are looking to run profitably, efficiently, and effectively. While it may sound counterintuitive on the surface to look to outsource (and therefore pay for) projects to be done by outside contractors that your full-time staff is more than capable of doing, we would encourage more companies to think about hiring freelancers in terms of ROI.
While it may cost you an extra $100 per month to have your social media posts queued up into a social media management platform, it means that your marketing representative is no longer spending that five to ten hours each month copying and pasting links into Hootsuite. Now, your marketing representative has an extra chunk of time to think about how to attract new customers, to focus on new methods to generate more leads, to optimize your email campaigns, or even just spend some time strategizing about how to update and change your social media approach to make it more effective long-term.
Our suggestion to each company would be to embrace the power and future of the gig economy; it's here to stay. Think about how it might be able to go to work for your business, whether it's through hiring contractors to facilitate events or client meetings or if it's through more project-based work like a website redesign, content writing, or graphic creation. Schedule a meeting with your department leads to figure out what projects they would ideally outsource to freelancers if they had the opportunity; ask them to suggest initiatives they'd focus on without the repetitive work weighing their teams down. Free up your business' leaders' time to focus on projects that excite them; the $100 per month payment to the contract will pay for itself tenfold down the line.