It's not only freelance workers that can benefit from the growth of the gig economy. There are many reasons why hiring freelancers can be advantageous for businesses. Here, Ramya Sriram, digital content manager at online platform for freelance scientists Kolabtree, explains why small businesses should hire freelancers.

The word gig was first used in the 1920s to describe jazz-club musicians whose income depended on the number of gigs they played. During the UK's financial crisis in early 2009, many people made money wherever they could by finding short-term jobs, or gigs, which led to the phrase, the gig economy.

A decade on, the economy has recovered but the idea of the gig economy has persisted. In 2017, The Guardian reported that the UK's gig economy had grown by 70 per cent since 2010. Workers liked the freedom that came with freelance work - they could plan their working hours around their personal lives and the increasing cost of childcare made it is especially beneficial for parents.

Myth busters

Despite the popularity of freelance work, a lack of understanding of the gig economy means businesses are often hesitant to hire freelancers. A common myth is that training a freelancer requires more effort than it's worth. However, most freelancers possess highly specialized skillsets that allow them to rapidly adapt and integrate into business projects, which means the initial training they require is minimal.

Businesses are often deterred from hiring freelancers because they don't always know where to look for someone with the skills, experience and expertise needed. To ensure you are choosing a freelancer from a large pool of experts in your field, avoid the generic freelancer platforms and post your project on a platform that is specialized in your field.

Kolabtree has a database of over 5,500 scientific experts, many with PhDs, from highly reputable institutions such as the University of Cambridge and NASA. These freelancers are highly skilled in disciplines such as scientific writing, experimental design and statistical analysis.

Many businesses fear for the security of information they post on freelancer platforms.  Kolabtree provides non-disclosure agreements for its clients so that confidentiality does not have to be a concern. The company prides itself on the outstanding commitment and quality of work its freelancers bring to client projects. However, in the rare event that you do not receive a satisfactory service, the company holds your payments securely until the freelancer has completed the job to a high standard.