By Kjetil Olsen, VP Europe, Elance

Tying in with the UK's National Freelancer Day, Kjetil Olsen discusses the benefits for small businesses (SMEs) of hiring and managing freelance talent in the cloud

The UK boasts a thriving SME community driven by talented entrepreneurs who are well poised to embrace changes in the market and take advantage of the latest technology and tools to help them perform against larger, established businesses and international competitors.

One of the most exciting new trends in recent years has been the emergence of the human cloud, as more and more businesses go online to hire and manage talented staff on an hourly or project basis. The UK is at the forefront of this global trend — in the past year alone, there has been a 55% increase in the number of UK businesses hiring online, and the UK is now the third largest economy in Europe for hiring online.

So what does this mean for an SME laying the foundations for future growth? Below are just some of the areas where an SME can take advantage of the flexibility, cost saving and benefits of hiring and managing in the cloud:

Flexible staffing

Payroll is often a significant expense for a growing SME, which is why small UK businesses have been so open to new hybrid hiring models, which combine hiring onsite staff with online talent to complete work on an on-demand basis. Platforms for online work such as Elance allow businesses hire contractors at a project or hourly rate. Crucially for an SME, this reduces overheads and gives access to skills and talent not easily available locally.

The agile SME

One of the greatest benefits of hiring online is the flexibility it offers. Hiring a contractor online to complete work on an hourly or project basis ensures work is delivered on time — you only hire for the jobs you need, and a contractor will take on the work they have the capacity to complete on time.

Whereas in the past, SMEs would experience slow shifts in growth over time, the new human cloud hiring model allows SMEs to adapt to customer demands, changes in the market and seasonal peaks and troughs.

Expertise on-demand

Many SMEs consider hiring expert staff the reserve of larger companies with big budgets to attract the best talent. The human cloud levels the playing field for an SME, enabling a smaller business to access the best talent from around the globe on-demand.

The SME of the future — lean, flexible and cost effective

The benefits of reducing overheads by hiring from the human cloud are obvious for an SME. As well as access to a pool of expert talent from around the globe whenever needed, the human cloud means lower operational costs, making hiring a lower risk, faster process for SMEs.

Today’s entrepreneurs have access to free tools, innovative cloud based technologies and vast internet resources. By embracing online tools and hiring in the cloud, today’s SMEs economise without compromise, freeing up their time and limited resources to focus on differentiating their product or service and growing their business.

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