Call it independent work, hire employees, or the workforce, no matter what time, is continuously growing. Researchers predict half of the US workforce, by 2020, will join an independent body. Increasing these nimble external resources means that today’s executives need to learn to manage foreign employees better to ensure that their organization can take full advantage.
As a content strategist, I work daily with independent professionals, mostly copywriters, designers and marketing professionals. I have found the main advantages. My company is more flexible than others; I have industry experience in demand and maintain my monthly burn rate at a reasonable level.
However, finding long-term, independent options turned out to be a challenge, and I saw that business relationships would fail if you do not know how to manage your freelancers. I learned this when I grew up working independently in a company and became self-employed.
Communication is crucial
Communicate clearly with freelancers. If achievable, use visual conference system such as video communication. Split your screen during meetings. Use screens or charts in your emails to better explain what they should do. Use chat platforms when talking about group work. Also, make sure you remember your remote workers. Talk to them for a few minutes after the meeting ends.
Executives often underestimate freelancers. Contrary to the common impression, the term “freelancer” is not synonymous with cheap labor, a fungible resource, or a second-class employee desperate to work. Most freelancers need a grace period for boarding and training to understand their business mission. If you replace them all the time, you have to reinvest if you hire others.
The key to executives who hire freelancers is to think long-term and build relationships that provide repeated employment opportunities. It minimizes recruitment costs and helps your team create flexible processes that aim to reduce the hiring of full-time employees with less overhead and financial costs. In other words, look at your independent employees like any other member of your team.
I’ve found that many independent professionals, including myself, spend a lot of time looking for new ways to maintain a flexible lifestyle and turn on the lights. Managers should offer the best long-term contracts or negotiate a monthly withholding tax, possibly at a reduced rate. More extended fixed cost contracts also help the finance department determine their budget needs.
For sharing files and documents utilize a document management system. Dropbox and Google Drive are ideal tools for sharing. Do not rely on emails to share data because they could lose and users might not be able to find the latest version and changes. Give them the tools they need to work efficiently and make them all agree with you.
Expectations of the front load
At the end of the day when it comes to freelancers, remember that you run a business, and your time will be limited when it comes to managing relationships and negotiating. Be patient with your first independent assumptions to solve problems in your business process, develop new documentation for integration, and finally show what works and what does not work. Then concentrate on quickly finding a partner.
Understand your expectations and hire self-employed workers during a testing phase to determine if your performance and access to your business are appropriate. You must have a good understanding of the first or two tasks.
Keep track of your work
Implement tracking systems – no micro-management from remote employees. Give them the necessary flexibility, but do not leave them completely alone. You can ask them to enter working hours when they receive payment on time, and they can keep track of whether they work so many hours or surf the Internet with a time tracking software.
Freelancers are a kind of entrepreneurs. They took the risk of running a business on their own to enjoy more freedom and flexibility. I’ve found that freelancers tend to negotiate a fair employment rate, and sometimes it’s not always about money. It does not mean that executives should underestimate the work of an independent expert with “commitment” rather than financial gain. It merely means more freedom when working with an independent professional.
Managers need to be open to alternative methods to maximize their relationships with independent professionals. Search for their portfolio, social networks, and the context website in negotiations with freelancers and start a conversation about the discovery with short speeches. Organize a brainstorming session and discuss possible work scenarios that prioritize the interests of both parties. The key is to focus more on what you can give an independent professional than what he will provide you.
Keep in mind that you will not benefit from the idea of an alternative payment or a discounted rate, even if you think this is a great opportunity.
While the process of researching, hiring, and managing freelancers can be unfamiliar to today’s executives, the benefits of flexibility and responsive job performance in today’s economy can be rewarding. For staying in business, agility is essential.