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Freelance vs. In-House Developers


November 24, 2009

Once you’ve started your own website company, the question of hiring your own team or relying on freelancers will inevitably pop up. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having your in-house team? How about freelancers? In this article we weigh the pros and cons between these two options that you have.

In-House
An in-house staff, as implied, is the fixed staff you have within your company. In-house staff enjoys stability, a reliable source of income, routine and an established place of business, among other things.

An in-house staff will reassure you that you have an active workforce at all times, whenever you need them. It will be easier for the web design company to schedule current and pending projects, depending on the current workload of the staff. It will also be easier to monitor and get progress updates from staff all working in the same location. If there is a need to correct or change anything in a pending project, it will be easier to coordinate with members of your own staff.

Due to the everyday close proximity of your staff members and yourself, you can expect at least a regular rapport with them. Ideas can be exchanged more freely and even better, trust can be established between co-workers.

Friendship between staff and their superiors can mean loyalty to the company, as well as motivation to do their best in their work.
The workflow of a project can also be handled easier with an in-house staff. If one phase of the workflow experiences a glitch, it will be easier to backtrack and check where the glitch took place. An established workflow can also help your staff become more efficient and comfortable with what they’re doing.

Having an in-house staff will definitely cost more than hiring freelancers. There are the annual bonuses, benefits, holiday allowances and other provisions that you are required to honor when hiring in-house staff. You may also need to dedicate a part of your staff to handle the rest of the staff in the form of the Human Resources department. They will enforce company rules, monitor attendance and look after the needs of the rest of the in-house staff.

On an individual level, members of an in-house staff may like the structure, but some may start to feel pigeonholed in their role within the workflow of the company. Others may also become complacent and creatively stunted. Keep in mind that in a web design company, keeping a steady flow of creativity flowing in your employees is a must, or else your designs and content go stagnant. There is also the erstwhile office politics, which can sour relationships and be intrusive in professional settings.

If you value reliability, efficiency and stability in your web design company, having an in-house staff is the best way to go. As long as your budget can support maintaining an in-house staff, you’ll be able to keep up with the demands of your clients to produce the best website designs that you can.

Freelance

What is a freelancer? A freelancer is anyone who works outside the employee status of a company.  Freelancers are usually those who are gainfully employed somewhere else while doing side projects for other companies in their free time. A freelancer typically works from home using their own computer, internet connection and essential computer programs.

Web design companies often rely on freelancers on areas they do not have steady work for. For example, a site link builder is needed some of the time during the course of the year, but definitely not all of the time. Instead of hiring an employee who will not have anything to do most days, web companies will instead hire an outsider to field this job temporarily or for a short amount of time. For the same reason, freelancers are also less of a drain on the company’s resources, as the company does not have to provide the same benefits to freelancers that they give to regular employees.

Freelancers can also be hired based on their experience, expertise and as a source of fresher ideas outside the company. Freelancers in this sense are freer to come up with the ideas and to think out of the box.

However, freelancers also come with their own set of risks for the website design company. The first risk that comes with a freelancer is trust factors. Freelancers are not required to obey company rules and regulations regarding attendance, deadlines and absences. Should anything go wrong with a freelancer’s submitted work, the company may find itself hard-pressed to continue if the freelancer opts not to show up. Sickness, personal problems or unexplained disappearances are a common problem with many freelancers. They could easily drop a project and have no bigger consequences than not being paid the agreed amount by the company that hired them. Of course, the company can always blacklist the freelancer and warn other companies about him/her, but this usually comes with the price of an unfinished projects or unsatisfactory work results.

Trust can also be an issue when it comes to coding standards. Freelancers may not feel inclined to follow the coding standards set by your company and can easily do about going against rules without consequences. This usually means that the task of testing the code will fall upon the company itself, taking up valuable time and resources that could have been used for something else.

Freelancers work if they have free time to work, which may mean they are not necessarily giving their best in their work. Part-time work can mean not focusing full-time at the task at hand. Add the fact that they usually work from home, so they can be easily distracted with other things like their families or their favorite sport on TV. The part-time aspect of the freelancer’s work means that they very rarely submit projects on time.

A single freelancer will also not be expected to have the resources a website design company has. This means he/she has no access to powerful database servers, virus protection, firewalled development environment and a regular backup policy, among other things. This can mean that your project may not be totally secure with the freelancer working on a single-person computer.

Security can also be an issue in another way: Freelancers also have a tendency to share and re-sell anything they made for one project to another company. However, there are legal avenues website development managers can do to prevent this from happening.

These are just some of the major issues that you may face when deciding between having an in-house staff and freelancers. Having an in-house staff may cost you more as a company, but you will have more dependable results in the long run. Freelancers may cost you less money, but if you don’t find one that you trust, may cause you a lot of headaches as well. Choose carefully for what you deem will be the better choice for your website design company.