With the current economic climate, it’s easy to see why many companies now rely on freelance staff.
Not only does this resource provide greater flexibility, but will actually lower your costs and reduce the risks to major projects. It often results in higher grade skills from people who’ve learned their trade or profession the hard way - through hands-on experience, dedication and sheer graft. Like your business, freelancers stand or fall on their own merits.
Using freelance personnel increases your stability, because once you’ve employed the right individuals for specific tasks, you can call on them repeatedly as and when the need arises. Conversely, if someone fails to measure up, their services can be summarily dispensed with no unpleasant fallout.
- Lower cost
- Greater experience
- Increased stability
- Professional attitude
- Greater flexibility
- Easier termination
Flexibility can mean huge savings for companies. Although freelance fees may initially seem higher than permanent staff wages, you can avoid a raft of hidden costs, such as national taxation and NIC.
In the UK, companies must pay the Employer’s Class 1 National Insurance Contribution (NIC) for every permanent staff member. Depending on your pension schemes, rates and allowances, the cost for a typical employee earning £45,000 on PAYE is about £5,000 per annum. (See pay as you earn.)
Other staff benefits - both voluntary or mandatory- include holiday, sickness and maternity pay, health insurance, pensions, training and relocation costs - all of which are borne by the contractors, saving you money and valuable time.
If required, most contractors can provide the relevant equipment and work from their own premises. IT specialists are particularly effective when operating this way, providing solutions without disrupting your in-house IT department. Working remotely also makes freelancers more productive, as hours spent commuting each week can be put to better use.
Most contractors have a wealth of experience across diverse industries, platforms and projects that would take your company many years of training and investment to attain.
Individual freelancers are often highly specialised too, so you can call on different spheres of expertise where relevant, shortening development time and increasing quality.
Illnesses, family concerns and accidents are inevitable, yet often occur without warning. Contractors can step in at short notice to fill in the gaps, with additional back-up on hand in case the primary freelancer is unavailable.
Having someone you can rely on helps you achieve continuity of service, no matter what happens to your regular team.
Freelance contractors are highly motivated, knowing their next job depends on giving top-notch service every time. And, because they’re unconnected with your company, they’ve no involvement with internal disputes over pay, hours, responsibilities, credit, royalties, share prices, mergers, low morale and other issues.
Having no axe to grind leaves contract workers free to get on with the job.
Normally, your permanent team relies on fixed terms of employment, making it hard to change their work schedule without impinging on their personal lives. Contractors, on the other hand, are willing and able to adapt for special projects - especially in the short term, as they can take time off between assignments.
Because contractors usually work on a ‘project by project’ basis, you won't need to pay for downtime if the project is cancelled.
And if the contractor is not suited to the project, a termination clause can be invoked and a new contractor or employee brought in very quickly without notice periods or redundancy pay.
When to use contractors
Despite the many advantages of contractors over employees, they may not always offer optimum value for money in every case. Here are a few situations where using contractors represent a better return on your investment.
- Recruiting shortages
- On losing key staff
- Short term specialist requirements
Regular booms and busts, particularly when new generation consoles are released, make recruiting difficult. Fortunately, by providing a recruitment pool buffer, contractors help you avoid any gaps or overstaffing. You can ramp up during busy periods and cut back when things are slow – with no commitment to long-term employment costs.
On losing key staff
Many game development teams rely on key team members for specialised tasks, so finding replacements with the requisite skills is virtually impossible at short notice. Fortunately, contractors with their wider range of experience and more immediate availability can provide short term support until permanent substitutes can be found.
Short term specialist requirements
Many projects suffer from similar problems at various stages of development, such as memory fragmentation and graphics optimisations. A short (or even very short) term contract is often enough to clear the problem and get the project back on track.