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Debunking 7 Freelancer Myths You Might Believe

There are many myths around working with freelancers: they are unreliable, have less commitment than employees, and there may be a dispute over intellectual property. In the vast majority of cases, however, these concerns are unfounded. In this article you will find out why.

Myth #1: Freelancers Are Unreliable

The image of the unreliable freelancer who works on a whim still persists. One possible reason is related to the reservations many managers have about remote work: they feel they can’t control work performance when the person is not in the office. But the pandemic, if nothing else, has shown that this assumption is outdated and that reliable work has nothing to do with location.

In the case of freelancers, there is yet another dimension: in addition to their qualifications, reliability is the capital of freelancers. After all, who would continue to hire a freelancer if they are difficult to reach, don’t meet deadlines and deliver half-hearted work? That’s why many freelancers are even more reliable than employees. If their customers are not satisfied, the collaboration can be over quickly - in contrast, a permanent employee can often afford several slips until they have to face consequences.

Myth #2: Costs and Timeframes are Unpredictable

Many clients believe that when working with freelancers, they have no control over how much the bill will end up being. After all, fixed salaries are calculable, but freelancer invoices depend on effort and are therefore difficult to predict - right?

That’s partly true, but there are simple ways around it: Effort estimates in advance give companies a realistic idea of costs. A monthly budget cap also ensures that expenses don’t get out of hand. In addition, while salaries are stable for employees, output not necessarily is: Vacations or sick days can quickly lead to less output for the same price. More information can be found in our article on freelancer costs.

Often there is also the concern of not being able to influence when the job will be completed. After all, the company is not authorized to give instructions to the freelancer and cannot prevent him from prioritizing other assignments. However, this can be remedied by agreeing on a clear deadline. The freelancer will then do everything in their power to meet the deadline - after all, their reputation and a possible reassignment are at stake. To achieve this, they are also happy to work a weekend shift - something that cannot be demanded of an employee.

Myth #3: Freelancers Have Less Commitment

“Why should a freelancer be as enthusiastic about the job as an employee? After all, their job doesn’t depend on the company’s success. A permanent employee identifies more strongly with the company and therefore delivers better results.” This way of thinking is shared by many CEOs and HR managers, but it falls short.

Freelancers can choose their clients. They consciously choose companies they find interesting and where they can use their skills in the best possible way. This automatically ensures a high level of motivation. And precisely because their assignment is geared toward a specific goal, they are fully committed to it and show total dedication.

Myth #4: I Can Trust a Freelancer Less Than an Employee

Naturally, companies know a freelancer less well than a long-term employee. For some, this leads to a lower level of trust in the freelancer. But this is often unfounded, because freelancers cannot afford to betray the trust of their clients.

If you find the freelancer through a recommendation or a trusted platform like CodeControl, you have to worry about this issue much less anyway. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) also obligates freelancers to keep internal information to themselves and is generally recommended.

Myth #5: There is no Knowledge Building

The knowledge an employee brings along and acquires over time remains in the company and can be passed on to colleagues. In contrast, a freelancer’s expertise disappears out of reach again when the project ends - or so the frequent assumption goes. This is particularly unfortunate because they often bring very specialized knowledge to the table.

But simply by working with the freelancer, employees can expand their knowledge and benefit from new perspectives from outside. They benefit especially if the company organizes a knowledge transfer. Surely the freelancer is willing to give a workshop on their specialty as part of their assignment.

Myth #6: Intellectual Property Can Become a Risk

Freelancers perform their services for the company, but they are not a permanent part of the staff. Therefore, there are often concerns about intellectual property: What if there is a disagreement with the freelancer about copyright or the rights to use the results at a later time? No company wants to be bothered with such issues later on.

But this risk can be minimized with a detailed contract. This gives both sides security and allows them to include all desired aspects, for example, the copyright holder or limited or comprehensive rights of use. A clear agreement benefits both sides and provides security.

Myth #7: Freelancers Work Less Transparently

Some companies believe that they have too little insight into the way freelancers work and are less able to keep up to date with the progress of projects. However, it very much depends on the framework of conditions that is agreed upon for the collaboration. Clients should clearly communicate their expectations, because they are probably not self-evident for the freelancer. They have certainly also worked for clients who only wanted to receive the results at the end.

If there is a more pronounced desire for transparency, it is, for example, no problem to ask the freelancer for regular updates or even to set recurring status meetings. This allows for work to proceed with similar transparency as with an employee. However, companies should be careful not to involve the freelancer too much in their internal processes. Under certain circumstances, there is a risk of false self-employment in Germany.

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About the author

Dunja Reiber is a writer and content marketer specializing in Future of Work topics. She has worked in a content marketing agency and a software start-up before becoming a full-time freelancer. Whenever she's not typing away on her keyboard or researching exciting new topics she enjoys travelling, reading or yoga.