An offshore freelancer and a Virtual Employee both work remotely with their respective clients, with the difference that the former works from home and the latter works from VirtualEmployee.com’s office in India, New Delhi. However, this is not the only difference. They work very differently with a client.
A Virtual resource is a dedicated, full-time employee working for only one client – on a long-term and permanent basis. Hiring him/ her is just like recruiting a professional locally.
In contrast, a freelancer is neither an employee nor a dedicated resource. They are contracted for short-term, low-budget projects and often work with multiple clients simultaneously.
Virtual resources work directly with their clients; collaborating, communicating, and interacting together just like any regular employee and employer. Although a dedicated professional works from a different office than the client, this does not preclude or hinder the resource and the client from working closely together. This is because the dedicated staff is equipped with the latest and best hardware and infrastructure that makes physical distance irrelevant. Thus the first dimension to working with a remote dedicated professional is that a client works directly, closely, and no differently with his/her employees, despite each working from two different offices.
When hiring a freelancer, however, client interaction is minimal. Freelancers predominantly work independently and thus collaboration with them is mostly limited. The project specification is submitted by the client to the freelancer, who mainly works autonomously on the work. The client and the freelancer interact from time to time, so that the freelancer can showcase the completion of any segment of the project and for any feedback on the work. But the freelancer and client do not directly work together on the project. In addition, a freelancer is not a dedicated resource; this means that unlike a virtual resource they are not available during all office hours. Freelancers work their own hours and because they can be situated halfway around the globe this can mean their office hours drastically differ than the clients. Additionally, offshore freelancers work from home, often with poor hardware and infrastructure. This makes close collaboration using video conferencing, VOIP phone calls, PC sharing, etc. impossible even if the client and freelancer want to work closely together. Another factor that turns out to be a hindrance is the fact that many freelancers work with several clients together at once. Working directly with a client thus becomes impractical. The distinguishing aspect, therefore, is that a freelancer and a client do not work directly together, they work independently only interacting intermittently.
The second dimension to working with a Virtual dedicated professional is that the client is in complete control. The client specifies the daily/weekly activities, instructs how to complete the work, sets the employee’s project deadlines, provides any required training, supervises the employee’s work and provides constructive feedback. The employer and the dedicated staff are in constant dialogue with each other throughout the day. In summary, the client outsourcing the project manages their dedicated professionals with the same level of control and authority as a locally hired employee.
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