With the internet rapidly taking over the way we do business, a lot is changing. Some people view the digitization of work as a bad thing, but really people will be the winners.
One of the reasons for this is that it brings people together. Physical location no longer determines who can work for who. Employers can search out the best of the best and hire them for whatever tasks they need.
Working with freelancers also saves you money. You only ever pay for the work that is actually completed. Because of this, working with freelancers is a great move for startups. It allows them to inject their company with great talent without having to invest in costly full-time employees.
However, incorporating freelancers into your workforce requires a bit of a change in management skills. Freelancers are not bound to you in any way. Even if you pay them well, there are some things that will annoy them and cause them to drop you in favor of other clients.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your freelancer team:
Schedule Regular Meetings
When freelancers start a project, they're coming in a bit blind. They may have their own ideas that come from past experiences, but you also will have a specific vision for the work they do not know.
For you to achieve success in leading them, you must be all ears. Schedule frequent meetings with your freelancers so that you can make sure everyone is on the same page. Some of the popular software tools available for such meetings are Hangouts and Skype.
You can schedule weekly meetings to check in on work, and then make adjustments to this schedule as needed. You don't want freelancers feeling like they are tied down, but you also want them to know there is an easy way to get in touch and ask questions should they need to.
Keep Your Freelancers on Track
When people work closely together in an office, there are specific routines that naturally keep everyone on track. Work hours are well defined, and at any given time, you can know who's on the job and who isn't.
However, when working with freelancers who could be located anywhere in the world, it can be very hard to keep them on track. If you pay them hourly, this confusion can lead to freelancers logging extra hours and you paying for work that was never done.
The good news is that there are tools that increase transparency and productivity. If you need to keep track of the hours that your remote team members work, the use of time-tracking software can be your perfect solution for you.
While some available tracking tools will let you keep track of hours via a stopwatch feature, there are other options available. Innovative programs like Time Doctor and Hubstaff will automatically keep a record of how your freelancers use their computer during work time and will even take screenshots randomly, thus making sure that work hours are reported accurately. Some of the platforms offer integration to make it easier for you to pay your freelancers for the hours they have worked.
But you also don't want to go too far with this. One of the reasons freelancers became freelancers is because of the freedom and flexibility the work provides. If you are constantly on their back about work, you're going to cramp their style and sour the relationship.
The best thing to do is to set deadlines and be firm with them. Then, let the work speak for itself. If everything is going smoothly, feel confident you're getting what you're paying for. But if work suffers, or if you notice freelancers are taking lots of time to produce mediocrity, then you'll want to analyze what's going on and see if it's time to make a change.
Be Friendly to Your Team
A friendly atmosphere makes everything seem better. Creating a pleasant atmosphere is a must-use strategy for boosting your team's well-being and creativity. The approach might seem hard to enforce to a group of freelancers you're connecting to via emails and text messages. However, even when working remotely with your freelancers, there are many ways to create a strong harmonious relationship with your team members.
It's good to take time to develop a good personal relationship with each member of your team. Ask about their interests, hobbies, happiness, career or even business goals. Appreciating your freelancer's effort and time by paying bonuses for quality work or even simply saying thank you is vital.
Something else you could do is to offer some small perks.For example, if you're working consistently with some freelancers, consider offering them things such as a free coffee subscription service or maybe a gift card for a restaurant they mentioned they like. This is something no other company will likely do, and freelancers will appreciate this, making it more likely they will stay on and keep doing good work.
Offer Detailed Instructions
While some freelancers fail to deliver as per clients' needs, the major issue is often lack of instruction. Each freelancer in your team must know what they are supposed to do, especially in cases where several freelancers are working on a particular project.
For example, if you have a team of twenty freelancer writers, you must provide specific instructions to each on the type of article needed (list, case study, how-to, etc.), style, word count and deadline. This approach will enable you to diversify your content and help you create a routine for publication.
In many cases, you'll likely end up getting unsatisfied with the freelancers' work. But it does not mean that you should fire and hire again, as this will lead to even more frustration. The best solution in this case is to discuss with your freelancer why you're unhappy with their work, clarify your needs and what's expected, and ask the freelancer to make the required adjustments.
The use of freelancers is a great way to add value to your business. There are some truly talented individuals out there who can produce great work for your business at a fraction of the cost. Make the proper adjustments to your management style and watch your business flourish with a team of qualified and productive freelancers.
About the author: Caroline is a writer and blogger who has worked with various companies over the course of her career. She enjoys writing about how freelancers can make people's businesses better, and also how the freelancer life can be a great move for talented creatives.