There are over 59 million freelancers just in the United States alone. And with the pandemic significantly reshaping work patterns and people’s perceptions about the workplace, that number is set to increase even further in the next five years. Because of this, it is going to be important for every business to learn how to increase the efficiency of your freelance team.
And while that offers a range of benefits to both the freelancers and the employers, managing freelance teams has significant differences compared to other types of employees. And not being aware of these differences and how to address them can cause a lot of problems that can hurt productivity, cause friction, and prevent you from building strong relationships with the best freelance talent you have access to.
To help you avoid these and many other issues while maximizing the productivity of your freelance team, let’s look over a few of the main strategies you should consider.
Working with freelancers has many limitations. Because they don’t have fixed availability in terms of time and aren’t physically present in the office, you have to find other viable ways to communicate and share updates and progress reporting if you are going to work as a team with success.
And the good news for businesses is that there are tools specifically designed to make that much easier. When you start using freelance management software solutions, you get to enjoy a range of benefits that a streamlined and specialized solution for working with freelancers can offer.
These types of solutions can help you source top talent faster, smoothly onboard them into your workflows, keep track of multiple projects, inform the right people, and even quickly approve payments in the same place, minimizing friction and saving you a ton of time that managing a freelancer team could otherwise take up.
A collaborative work environment is one of the best facilitators for growth. But while in-office collaboration can occur naturally, it’s takes much more intentionality to get people to work together when they might be situated in different cities or even continents. Add in the fact that freelancers don’t work regular hours, and making people share ideas and information becomes a significant challenge.
The good news is that there are simple yet incredibly effective methods for encouraging collaboration and teamwork. For instance, you could set up an accountability buddy system, where each freelancer would get paired with another and hold each other accountable to accomplish tasks and progress in their goals. Having someone you can always reach out to with questions or even seek encouragement is a great way to strengthen bonds and create a more nurturing and safe working environment.
There are plenty of tools for managing projects with people remotely. But using tools like Asana is not enough to ensure that your freelance team members are working efficiently and not wasting time trying to solve issues that have a simple solution. And that means you need to provide instructions on how to best tackle various situations and responsibilities they deal with on a day-to-day basis.
If you want your freelance teams to be highly productive, you need to provide them with clear guidance on what you want them to work on and how you want them to approach the tasks. Even though autonomy is an indispensable part of the process, you need to start by defining what they should be aiming for and a path they might want to take to get there.
One of the biggest challenges of working in a remote environment, especially with freelancers, is not being in the same room or even in the same timeframe for work. As a leader and superior, you need to be able to guide people when they need feedback, but that can sometimes be a challenge because of time zone differences, different schedules, and a variety of other reasons.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to be available at a certain time to be helpful and enable your freelancers to reach out. In fact, sometimes all it takes is clearly defining the process for asking questions and seeking feedback to solve most of the communication issues that might arise.
For one thing, you clearly define your hours of availability so that freelancers know when they can expect an answer. Then, provide multiple means of communication for them to reach out, so that even if they don’t receive an immediate answer, they can send you the question and know that you will respond eventually. To achieve this, you can use Slack, email, Skype, or any other communication tool that your freelancers like to use since it will ensure no messages are forgotten and that you will get to them eventually.
Working with a freelancer team offers numerous opportunities for businesses. But to make the most of what it has to offer, it’s crucial to understand the main principles of working with remote teams with various schedules to increase the efficiency of your freelance team.
The strategies listed above should be a good starting point that allows you to better cater to the needs of your remote freelance teams and boost their efficiency.