When to hire full time vs freelancer: Building your ideal team

  • Tips for Hiring
Contra Tips
· 9 min read

The gig economy's surge is quickly changing the work scene, erasing the stark lines that once separated full time jobs from freelance gigs. Companies can quickly dip into a worldwide talent pool, opening up new possibilities and challenges.

Making the call to hire full time employees or to lean on freelancers is critical for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. This choice profoundly influences your organization's flexibility, financial well-being, and the caliber of your outputs. While full time employment offers stability, engaging with freelancers can grant your business the versatility and specialized skills it needs.

Comparing full time employees and freelancers

Full time employees form the core of a company's labor force, committing to a regular schedule to advance the organization's aims. They are crucial to the employer business structure, enjoying consistent pay and benefits such as health insurance and retirement contributions, highlighting their role's stability.

Conversely, freelancers or independent contractors embody a unique work model. They address specific needs, offering their skills on a project or as needed basis across various sectors. Valued for their self-reliance and specialized expertise, freelancers can set their hours and work with diverse clients, opting for work variety over traditional job security and benefits.

Legal and tax responsibilities explored

The line between full time employees and freelancers also manifests in distinct legal and financial duties:

  • For Employers, hiring full time involves substantial legal obligations, including managing tax withholdings and making payments towards Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. This structured approach simplifies employee tax processes but requires diligent financial management from the company.
  • Freelancers and independent contractors navigate their financial landscape independently, addressing self employment tax directly with the IRS. This setup offers freedom in financial management but demands a thorough understanding of tax obligations to ensure compliance. This takes the burden off of the employer.

Weighing commitment against flexibility

The decision to hire full time employees or freelancers often hinges on the desired balance between organizational commitment and operational flexibility:

  • Hiring full time employees is conducive to roles that demand deep integration with the company's culture and ongoing projects, offering job security and sustained engagement that benefits both the employee and the organization.
  • Opting for freelancers suits scenarios requiring specific expertise or additional resources temporarily, providing companies with the agility to adapt to project demands or market changes without the long-term commitment of traditional employment.

This nuanced approach to staffing affects not only the immediate operational capacity of a business but also its long-term strategic direction. By carefully considering these factors between freelance work with independent contractors, businesses can align their staffing strategy with broader organizational goals, ensuring a dynamic and responsive workforce.

Freelancer or full time employee: Navigating your business needs

Deciding to hire a freelance worker or secure a full time employee significantly impacts your team structure and the success of your projects. This important choice depends on your goal, like getting new software off the ground, giving your website a makeover, or stepping up your digital marketing efforts.

The role of full time employees in your organization

Full time roles bring stability to your team. Here's how:

  • Consistent availability: The fixed schedules of a full time employee means they're readily available on a regular work hour to push forward ongoing initiatives and address new challenges.
  • Foster team cohesion: They contribute to a collaborative and unified workplace to the employer by fully integrating into your company culture.
  • Ensure quality and consistency: Having a direct stake in your company's success, full time employment workers are motivated to maintain high work standards.

Is a full time role always the answer? No. While specific projects might benefit from the in-depth understanding and sustained focus a full time role provides, the agility and specialized expertise freelancers and independent contractors offer often align more closely with the dynamic needs of modern projects, steering the scale towards the flexibility of freelance contributions.

Freelancers: flexibility and expertise

Freelancers and independent contractors, across a range of roles, provide adaptability and new insights. They:

  • Deliver expertise for specific needs: Whether overhauling a website or launching a focused advertising campaign, freelancers bring the specialized skills required without needing an ongoing commitment. Freelance work is often of the highest quality, due to freelancers' ability to specialize.
  • Enable workforce flexibility: Freelancers make adjusting your team's size easier according to the ebb and flow of project demands or seasonal peaks, ensuring efficiency and adaptability. These independent workers support your team, preventing burnout and delivering results faster.
  • Encourage skills-based hiring: This approach matches the project's needs with the perfect skill set, whether a freelance engineer for a new product design or a freelance content writer for your blog.

When should you lean towards freelancers? If you're dealing with project-specific needs, tight deadlines, or seeking innovative solutions without expanding your full time roster, freelancers can be the ideal choice.

Selecting the ideal candidate on Contra—whether a committed full time web developer or a creative freelance graphic designer—relies on thoroughly assessing your project's demands, budgetary considerations, and broader business aspirations. Making the right choice between full time employment or to hire freelance workers can take your projects and business to the next level, blending the right amount of reliability and unique expertise.

Advantages of hiring full time employees

  1. Stability and consistency: Hiring full time employees solidifies your team's stability, offering dependable and uniform contributions to your business. Their constant work hour presence helps ensure that projects advance steadily and effectively.
  2. Control over work: Employing full time staff gives you more oversight over work schedules and output. This control helps you maintain quality and meet deadlines effectively.
  3. Team culture: Full time roles significantly foster a strong team culture and company cohesion. Employees develop a sense of belonging, which can enhance collaboration and drive toward common goals.

Advantages of working with freelancers

  1. Access to skills: Freelancers expand your access to diverse skills and talents. Whether you need niche expertise or additional hands, the freelance market meets these needs swiftly.
  2. Scalability: With freelancers, scaling your team up or down based on current work demands becomes simpler. This adaptability is key in managing project loads and meeting deadlines without the commitment to long-term hires.
  3. Flexibility and cost-efficiency: Freelancers or independent contractors bring the dual benefits of adaptability and savings. By hiring them for projects, you sidestep the continuous costs tied to full time employee salaries, paying only for the work you need. Freelance workers will handle their own self employment tax, taking the burden of taxes off of the employer.

Deciding between full time and freelance staff

When to opt for full time employees

Certain situations call for the commitment and stability of a full time hire:

  • Core roles: Positions foundational to your business operations typically require a full time employee's dedicated presence and deep organizational integration. You may want people on the same work hour schedule as yourself.
  • Ongoing need for capabilities: Full time employment provides continuous support and commitment for sustained progress and success for long-haul initiatives without a definitive endpoint.
  • Consistent supervision needed: Work streams that demand regular oversight or adhere to a strict company protocols or schedules are best managed by full time employees, ensuring seamless integration with your company's daily workflows.

Favoring freelancers

In contrast, many scenarios are ideally suited for freelance talent:

  • For projects with clear endpoints: Consider a freelancer or independent contractor if your project has a defined timeline. These on-demand experts are perfect for tasks requiring specific skills for a short period, giving you the flexibility and know-how without a long-term tie.
  • Navigating unique skill requirements: There are moments when a project surpasses your team's current skill set. This is when bringing a freelancer on board becomes a game-changer. They provide the specialized know-how and innovation your project requires, contributing as needed.
  • Flexible budgeting advantage: Freelancers are a practical solution for maintaining financial flexibility. They allow for adjusting your team's size in response to the ebb and flow of project demands, helping you circumvent the continuous expenses tied to full time employees, including regular salaries and benefits.

The future of full time and freelance work

The employment landscape is in flux, influenced by changing priorities and technological advances. Here's a closer look at the shifts underway:

Work culture transformation

A growing preference for flexibility is pushing companies away from the traditional workday. At the same time, the expansion of the gig economy challenges the idea of permanent, full time roles, offering varied and adaptable work opportunities.

The impact of remote work

Remote work changes the game by removing the usual limits, allowing companies to hire people from anywhere. This shift is updating how companies hire, making it common for full time employees and freelancers to work side by side, bringing together reliability and the freedom to adapt.

Predictions for the workforce

Leaning into a talent strategy that embraces both full time employees and freelancers enables companies to rapidly scale with agility and dynamic expertise.  The combined reliability of full time employees and adaptability of freelancers means companies can navigate changing workloads and specialized project needs. Additionally, a shift towards skill-based hiring will likely result in companies prioritizing specific competencies for projects over traditional, long-term roles.

Choosing between full-time employees and freelancers is tailored to your business's unique goals, the direction you envision for your team, and the hurdles you encounter in the marketplace.

Consider what your projects demand, the commitment you're looking for, and how much flexibility your operations can handle. Whether it's the dedicated involvement of full time employment or the specialized, adaptable touch of a freelancer, choosing one will set your business on the right growth path. Remember, the best choice today might not be the same tomorrow, so stay open to reevaluating as your business and the market continue to evolve.

Powering the skills-based flexible workforce

Contra supports companies as they scale by making it easy to find highly-skilled freelance talent, while also providing tools to enable entire teams of full time employees to work seamlessly with their independent counterparts. Support your employees by adding skilled independent contractors to your team - avoiding burnout and extending your impact. Together, the right mix of freelancers and full time team members will be unstoppable. Check out Contra for Companies to start building your flexible team.

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