The COVID-19 pandemic may have shifted shopping and food delivery patterns, but it has not changed the basic requirements for freelancers looking to find work.
Companies still need to find and quickly verify workers and their skills, and freelancers must make sure employers are trustworthy as well. These workers also want to be paid via convenient methods that allow them to keep up with their bills and other financial needs.
Transparent communication between firms and freelancers once identity verification has been conducted can help build relationships that last beyond a single project, Michael Brooks, CEO and founder of online freelancer platform goLance, told PYMNTS. The company requires these workers to complete skill tests to prove their proficiency and allows them to rate clients, providing them with detailed looks at how partnerships tend to develop.
“We take a holistic approach to match the right talent with the right opportunity,” Brooks explained. “Transparency between clients and freelancers is also critical. That is why we enable our freelancers to evaluate the clients, and the clients to rate the freelancers on the website.”
Creating an environment in which both parties can seamlessly communicate allows them to immediately know whether their relationships can be maintained, he continued. Companies turn to freelancers to complete existing projects and supplement their workforces. Enabling quick and easy payments for such workers can keep them assured of their incomes and interested in devoting more time to companies, creating lasting partnerships.
Confidence Is Key
Firms looking to hire freelancers typically have projects they need finalized on strict deadlines, so they want the search for talent to take as little time as possible. Speeding up this process may require granting companies more detailed pictures of possible hires’ skill sets and financial wants so they can be confident about their abilities, Brooks explained. Freelancers also want to know their clients are legitimate and can fulfill the terms of posted jobs without surprises.
Marketplaces and other third parties must facilitate this transparency to ensure relationships can flourish with as few hiccups as possible. These platforms conduct initial identity verification before presenting in-depth worker profiles or job postings, meaning firms and their potential workers have fewer time-consuming authentication concerns when hiring or being hired. Each marketplace has its own methods for ensuring that collaborating entities are legitimate.
"At goLance, we also verify our clients in a variety of ways,” Brooks said. “When clients sign up, they need to provide credit card information. We often will require ID and facial recognition scans through third-party platforms. They have to verify payment instruments through third-party tools and a security system.”
The company allows potential workers to add links to their profiles on social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Quora, to provide more well-rounded views of their skills, experience and digital portfolios, he added. goLance is in the process of creating a system that scores clients based on workers’ reviews, as well as their number of disputed jobs or payments, and those who have higher scores are typically able to send payments more quickly. Faster fund transfers have long been important to freelancers, Brooks noted, and firms need to be sure they are treating payments carefully — especially when collaborating with individuals in other countries.
“Many employers in the U.S. rely on global freelancers, who may require a variety of electronic payment options,” he said.
Partnering with third-party providers to create support for disparate payment options can ease the process. goLance works with accounts payable (AP) solutions provider Tipalti and payments provider Payoneer to expedite transactions on its platform, for example. Transparent platforms show workers’ locations or pay requirements from the start, keeping firms aware of the timing and methods through which these workers will need to be compensated. This is likely to grow as a distinguishing factor as remote workplaces become more commonplace — both during the COVID-19 outbreak and after it has passed.
The Increasing Importance of Trust
The pandemic has led many companies to adopt remote work models to limit the risk of viral exposure. Freelance job postings and rates have also increased, and Brooks said he believes this trend will last beyond stay-at-home and social distancing orders. He noted that marketplaces must anticipate that some of these shifts may be permanent and focus on generating trust through transparency as they further rely on such workers.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and they have to be efficient and have to access high-quality talent at the best value,” Brooks explained. “More and more businesses of all sizes are starting to experience this value with freelancers. They are bringing them on to reduce costs while leveraging the benefits of a skilled global workforce.”
This future will still involve freelancers who view easy payments as differentiators and companies that need to quickly verify new hires, meaning that maintaining trust will remain important for the marketplaces that facilitate their relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic’s acceleration of remote work — especially as it relates to freelancing — has made the need for such transparency only more noticeable for online marketplaces and firms.