Are “rebel” remote workers good for business?

Freelance and contract web workers are unfettering themselves from the conventional freelance business model to “work where [they] want to work, live how they want, and be who [they] want to be.”

These skilled professionals have decided to decline the nine-to-five regime and fit work in around their other passions, interests, and commitments. You may already unknowingly give freelance or contract work to people who fall into this growing part of the remote web workforce.

The prevalence of technology means that your favorite freelancer could be building a business in a city just like yours, or they could be living in a jungle and tackling your projects between epic surfing expeditions. So long as they have a reliable web connection, you may never know the difference.

Are these “untemplaters” a good skill resource for growing businesses? To many employers, this breed of digital professional might seem flighty and unreliable — after all, they might pick up and vanish into the wild, blue yonder once they finish this job. Where’s the accountability? Can a project as important as yours rest on their contribution?

In most cases, the answer to all these questions is, “yes.” Here are a few of the main reasons why these “rebels” are good for business.

They’re passionate and skilled

The non-conformist freelancer prioritizes things other than work, sure. But they champion quality of life. As such, they may be more likely than your regular business-building freelancer to restrict themselves to projects that really interest them.

Think about it: If you were to restrict the work you did, you’d want the projects you took on to be extra-rewarding. Instead of taking on anything and everything that comes their way, the smarter web workers in this group pick and choose projects they feel will use their skills, ignite their passions, and satisfy their need to contribute.

The idea of the rebel-freelancer being a “drop-out” is no longer current; you’ll likely find your remote resource highly skilled. These individuals are effectively relying on their own, evolving expertise to make a living in less time than it takes the rest of us. To do that, you’ve got to be good.

They can commit

The idea that a freelancer who’s working from a rented room in Salvador to fund their next Amazonian trek won’t be committed or accountable isn’t likely to play out in reality. The days of fly-by-nighters making it online are over. And if your recruitment and screening processes can’t pick them out, then you have bigger problems than working with untethered remote workers.

Solutions to the issues of commitment and accountability are ultimately rooted in the rapport you build with freelancers, regardless of their locations (or how they spend their spare time). If you need a freelancer to be around after they deliver their part of the project, make that clear up-front, just as you would with a local, more traditional freelancer or contractor. If they can’t commit, they’ll be able to tell you so, and you can move on to other candidates.

They are connected

What’s web connectivity like in Salvador? Depending on where you operate, it may be a step up from what you’re used to. Most people who pursue an “untethered” lifestyle know that to support that lifestyle they need to be reliable, and available. And most are extremely tech-savvy — the less technologically capable are less likely to be able to make remote-location freelancing work.

So if your untemplated freelancer comes with good references, work samples, and communicates with you easily through the selection process, you’re unlikely to encounter show-stopping troubles during the project. Again, set your expectations for contactability and availability up-front, and make sure everyone’s comfortable with, and capable of, meeting those needs.

If you’re really concerned — for example, the individual is located in an area where there’s unrest, issues with freedom of information or connectivity, and so on — discuss that with the candidate and develop contingencies that can be implemented if the worst-case scenario turns into a reality.

Are they for you?

Whether the non-traditional freelancer is right for your business will depend as much on your operation as it does on the remote worker.

Your timeframes, project management approach, expectations, and philosophy may all prevent you from working successfully with an “untemplated” freelancer — or any freelancer.

The businesses that are likely to be best suited to collaboration with these individuals will be flexible, technologically adept and versatile, communicative, human, and results-focused. If this sounds like you, “untemplated” workers might be a sensible and flexible asset to your team.

Image by stock.xchng user shortsands.