As the job market is evolving, millions of businesses around the globe are stepping away from traditional employee structures and turning to freelancers. Recent reports show that 36% of the US workforce is freelancing – a number that is only expected to grow in the following years. But what exactly does this employment shift mean for businesses?
Among other things, working with skilled freelance talent helps businesses complete projects faster, deal with a heavier workload and find solutions to complex problems. Many organizations even find them essential for the functioning of their business. However, managing freelancers can be difficult, especially if you have to balance the responsibility with other important tasks.
To understand how to meet the needs of your freelancers you need to focus on building a management structure that can support both sides. Here are some highly actionable tips for managing freelancers to get the best results for them and your business.
Take Advantage of Tools
Thanks to technology, you can now access and use a host of tools that will help you organize and manage freelancers – even if they’re working remotely. You can even use a complete and customizable management platform for freelancers that takes care of everything from sourcing to onboarding to workflow.
Generally, there are three main areas where tools can improve your management process – project management, communication, and time tracking. Project management and communication tools can help you streamline the constant back-and-forth conversations between the freelancer, project lead, and other stakeholders, improving the overall collaboration. Time tracking tools are a must if you pay freelancers by the hour as they will track time spent on tasks and ensure all hours are billed.
Define Clear Expectations
When starting a new project with the freelance team, make sure to specify what the project is and what is expected of both sides, including deadlines, budget, materials, and deliverables. It’s also important to specify what is or isn’t covered by the company, such as travel, food, or postage, to avoid issues or misunderstandings down the line.
At the same time, if they’re new to your company, take time to familiarize them with your business and all elements that are either connected to the project or might influence its success. Apart from laying out the structure of the teams, you should also cover specifics like your protocols, values, and culture. If they’re not working remotely, it might be best to have them come to the office and get to know the team and culture before diving into their work.
Focus on Building Relationships
Finding and acquiring new talent is a long process that can cost you 1.5 to 3 times as much as retaining your existing employees. That means that unless you’re looking for freelancers to work on a short project, it’s imperative you treat them as an extension of your team and invest in a long-term relationship.
To begin with, you should focus on making them feel appreciated and just as much a part of your team as any other employee. For this, you should acknowledge their contributions, check in regularly, and make an effort to integrate them into the company. As with any other employee, keeping an open conversation will allow you to share feedback and improve any setbacks from either side.
Understand Their Strengths and Limitations
Just like every regular employee, freelancers have their strengths and weaknesses that determine their suitability for different tasks. If they are new to the company, you might want to take note of the areas they’re best in and the ones where they fall short, so you can assign tasks that align with their capabilities.
For instance, if you’re hiring content writers, you might want to evaluate which ones have a knack for creative writing or are better suited for more factual, research-based content so you can assign the content accordingly. At the same time, if you’re invested in their careers and help them grow in areas they’re relatively new in, they will likely invest more in your projects and deliver results you might not have anticipated.
Some of the best ways to improve your management when it comes to freelancers are to take advantage of tools, define clear expectations from the start, focus on building relationships, and understand the freelancers’ strengths and limitations. However, you shouldn’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right from the first try.
When hiring and working with freelancers, the most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and improve your processes over time. The gig economy is here to stay, so the sooner you can learn to adapt to it, the quicker you’ll be able to reap the benefits.