The benefits of hiring a freelancer can be significant, but the nature of remote working can also bring challenges, particularly to a small or start-up business. In fact, you might be wondering how you will be able to manage a freelance employee. However, with enough understanding and adaptability, this will become far less daunting.
One huge factor which has shaped the freelancing industry is technology, which has completely transformed the way people work, particularly in the last decade. The number of freelancers has soared by 46 per cent since 2008 and the freelance or ‘gig’ economy offers small firms access to a diverse, fast-growing and highly skilled workforce which was simply not available until recently.
Here we will give you 5 steps to working with a freelancer successfully.
1) Hire the right person
Depending on the task you need completing, it can be difficult to work out who the ideal freelancer would be to meet your needs. Once you have decided how to proceed, it is advisable to use the following four tips.
- Utilize your contacts and networks to ask for referrals and recommendations, as first-hand testimonies are often a reliable way of identifying whether the person would be suitable.
- If this proves unsuccessful, use a freelance hiring site, ensuring of course that it is of a high caliber.
- Check references for those that apply, as this will allow you to get a better idea of how they have operated in the past.
- Test the skills that your potential freelancers are offering and ensure that they match your requirements.
2) Invest in your tech
Technology can be a double-edged sword when employing a freelancer. Whilst it can be the enabler when it comes to working with them, it can also become an inhibitive factor if the platforms you are using are not conducive to remote working. Investing in the right software—and that which is compatible with your freelancer—is essential, as is ensuring you maintain good WiFi speeds and video conferring abilities.
3) Involve your freelancers early on
Involving your remote workers in a project at its outset increases their sense of involvement and ownership—which can be critical when people are working away from the heart of any project. Achieving buy-in early can help freelancers understand the broader context in which they’re working. This means they will be more informed and more invested in the project.
Face-to-face meetings are also a great way of maintaining a sense of connectivity with your remote staff. Of course, this will not always be possible—dependent on factors such as location—but making the time and effort to meet with freelancers on a regular basis helps maintain a culture of togetherness.
4) Apply accountability along with autonomy
Most freelancers head down this route because they enjoy the autonomy that comes with working remotely. But just because they are not there physically, that does not mean that you should not hold them to account. Trust is a key feature of any business relationship and this is no different when working with a freelancer. Establishing clear expectations of what is expected on both sides is essential. On the flipside of this, always take care not to appear to be “breathing down the neck” of your remote workforce.
5) Check in regularly
The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” could be tempting to apply to a team of freelancers. After all, one of the advantages of hiring remote staff is the minimal level of day-to-day management they should need. But it can be demotivating for them to work for hours alone without anyone checking in to ask how it is all going. Freelancers may enjoy the lack of restriction that their chosen mode of employment allows, but that does not mean they are robots who can exist without any human interaction from those they are working with. This is why it is important to engage with them, and maintain open channels of communication.
Overall, working with freelancers offers a small business a bigger pool of talent to connect with than ever before. It does not necessarily take more or less effort to manage a freelancer than a regular employee, however it does require a slightly adjusted approach. As a small business, the most important factors in managing freelancers are to hire the right person, provide them with the technology they need, and always communicate clearly with them. In this way, you will benefit the most from hiring a freelancer.