When comparing an offshore freelancer to a Virtual Employee, vis-a-vis hiring and working, where do the respective strengths of each lie?
The objective of this article is to better understand the role of freelancers and virtual employees or remote dedicated employees. Answering the above question will in turn help one deduce which of the two is more suitable for a specific offshore requirement.
Generally speaking, one can assign a project to a freelancer relatively quickly. Hiring remote employees may take longer.
This is because most (although not all) Virtual Employees undergo rigorous screening process before being hired, which obviously takes time.
Freelancers work from home, unsupervised, and are not legally contracted. Subsequently, they often become complacent when it comes to availability, punctuality in meeting deadlines, and completing a project.
On the other hand, working with dedicated employees means a significantly greater degree of accountability and supervision. This is because these employees work from VirtualEmployee.com’s supervised office where they are monitored by managers at all times. Furthermore, they are legally hired resources, and thus are accountable to both the remote staffing specialist and the client.
Freelancers work with multiple clients simultaneously. Inevitably, they devote their greatest attention and priority to whichever contract is the most financially rewarding for them. Furthermore, because freelancers work on short-term projects, they do not have any fear that they could jeopardize losing a long-term, secure job, unlike a dedicated employee.
Virtual Employees, on the other hand, are dedicated, full-time resources. They work for only one client and the client’s work is always their foremost priority.
With regard to cost, both freelancers and dedicated resources save clients considerable expenses.
However, clients get a lot more for their money when they employ virtual resources. With a freelancer, clients simply receive “x” number of hours. With remote dedicated professionals, clients not only have a dedicated, full-time resource but, essentially, their own offshore office in India. VirtualEmployee.com’s office becomes a subsidiary office of the client’s local office. And the client can avail the services of the dedicated HR department, accounts department, IT support, and client support department. Furthermore, our managers work on the client’s behalf to manage their employees and ensure that the client’s instructions are followed. Lastly, remote dedicated staff has easy access to the best infrastructure and hardware. It is highly unlikely for freelancers to have access to such infrastructure and hardware.
A client will have a wide variety of candidates to select from when hiring either a freelancer or a Virtual Employee. Because Virtual Employees work from our offices located in the close proximity to the national capital of India, the majority of candidates are confined to this geographical area.
By contrast, a freelancer can be located in any part of the world, giving clients a wider choice.
All the candidates (potential Virtual Employees) first undergo a telephonic interview. If the interview goes off successfully, the candidates are invited for a personal meeting with an HR executive. Once again, success here leads the candidates to undergo another round of interviews with technical consultants who are proficient in the same domain as the candidates. In addition to this technical interview, candidates are also given online tests. It is only after a candidate has successfully cleared these rounds of screening that their resumes are submitted to the client. The client can then conduct their own phase of interviews and tests before deciding whether to hire or not.
In short, our screening process is highly effective at filtering qualified candidates from unsuitable ones. The recruitment process focuses on finding the best employee for each individual client’s specific needs. By contrast, there is no equivalent screening process when hiring a freelancer. Potential clients have to rely merely on feedback reviews of previous clients who have worked with an individual freelancer. However, this review system is widely known to have been corrupted and exploited by freelancers selling their accounts to other freelancers.
Unlike freelancers, remote dedicated professionals work from a supervised office of the service provider. We provide all the necessary hardware – a PC, telephone with local US/European number, fast internet connection, fax, scanner, printer, web cam, etc. The hardware a freelancer has at his or her disposal is unlikely to match what VirutalEmployee.com can provide.
Electricity and internet failures are fairly frequent in Third World countries. This can make working with an offshore freelancer unpredictable and unproductive. Whether a freelancer can overcome these obstacles is dependent upon the circumstances of that particular freelancer. Our office is, however, maintained to international standards and thus no difficulties with internet, electricity or infrastructure in general, will be encountered.
Compared to freelancers, it is quite easy to collaborate with Virtual Employees. There are several reasons for that. Firstly, our employees have better infrastructure/hardware at their disposal, thus making video conferencing, file sharing, and remote PC control easier. Additionally, they are dedicated, full-time employees and so they are always available to collaborate with the client if and when required. Freelancers work with multiple clients and so are often not available to collaborate or communicate with the client when the latter so desires. Lastly, the professionals supplied by us can work the exact same office hours as the client. The hours a freelancer works is, however, at their discretion, which may often mean they are unavailable to work the same shift as the client.
When hiring remote dedicated staff, the client signs a contract with us. The contract stipulates that it is our obligation to safeguard client’s data. The contract also includes a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and our staff can also sign a NDA if requested by the client.
When hiring a freelancer, however, there are no such legal provisions or overseeing authority present to protect against data theft.
With regard to data protection, our contract also stipulates that all work created by the Virtual staff is the ownership of the client. Intellectual property is, therefore, not a concern when hiring them. Unfortunately, with a freelancer there are no safeguards in place to prevent intellectual property abuse.
Both the Virtual Employees and the freelancers serve two different and distinct outsourcing markets. Where freelancers work on short-term projects, remote dedicated professionals are full-time, permanent employees. So, inevitably both the freelancers and the virtual staff have different strengths and weaknesses.
Nevertheless, it is evident from the above analysis that Virtual Employees are more professional, advanced, and evolved alternative to freelancers. This is why clients attain better results with them for long-term offshore projects.