Freelancers are a growing and essential part of the American workforce, with 53 million independent professionals currently living in the United States, up from 10.3 million a decade ago. By 2020, forecasters predict there’ll be more freelancers in the United States than full-time employees. More employers like you will add freelancers to their payrolls as these numbers grow. Consider these tips when you’re inviting freelancers to join your firm.
Don’t Try to Micromanage Them
The autonomy freelancers enjoy is also one of the biggest advantages of hiring them. Freelancers love setting their own hours and working in their own surroundings. While it’s reasonable to expect they’ll be available to respond to emails during business hours in a timely fashion, and that they’ll complete work in accordance with your company’s style guide and requirements, your management style shouldn’t become micromanaging.
Establishing a clear contract before you begin will help you avoid the impulse to micromanage. Your contract should state what the assignment is, when it’s due, and how it should be delivered. If the contract covers a long-term arrangement, you may also like to include a requirement for weekly catch-up sessions over Skype or email. This will help you resist the temptation to check up on your freelancers and their progress at times that may seem intrusive.
Micromanagers appear as if they don’t trust their freelancers, so breathe easy and loosen the reins. Studies show that at-home workers are around 13.5 percent more productive than office workers, and that they put in longer hours. So chances are that your freelancers aren’t simply sitting at home catching up on their favorite soaps.
Embrace the Digital Age
The face of freelancing has been rapidly changing with the rise of technology. It’s far less common to see freelancers leaving flyers or business cards at local stores or networking at community events. Instead they’re operating online, using the web to source jobs and complete them. As the overwhelming majority of freelancers rely on the Internet, it needs to be part of your freelance strategy too.
Use the Internet to recruit your freelancers, and ensure that these workers can complete their work online too. That includes making sure that employees have access to all the resources they need to get the job done to your specifications. Secure virtual networks can ensure that sensitive company documents stay protected. If collaboration is needed, use virtual meeting places rather than real-life cafes.
Online freelance platforms like oDesk and Elance can help businesses connect and work with independent hires. This recently published infographic highlights many of the social and economic benefits of online work for freelancers and the firms that employ them. Knowing that 62 percent of businesses agree that online hiring makes them more competitive may help convince you of the advantages of embracing online collaboration.
Make a Payment Plan
Not getting paid is the greatest concern for freelancers, according to business and marketing expert Diana Schneidman. Creating a clear payment plan before your freelancers begin work helps independent hires feel confident they’ll be compensated for their work. The payment plan should clearly indicate how much payment will be, how it will be processed, and when a payment will be made.
You might decide to pay your freelancers by the hour, by the project, or — in the case of freelance writers — by the word. Some freelancers already have established rates, which can be useful to consider if you’re unsure how much the work is worth.
Websites like PayPal and Bill.com make it easy to process online payments, but you may prefer to make direct deposits to your freelancers’ bank accounts. For ongoing work, you might pay freelancers weekly, biweekly, or monthly. If the work is less regular, consider processing payments within 14 days of receiving invoices. Most freelancers won’t mind too much when payments are processed so long as they know what to expect.
Hiring a freelancer is very different from hiring a full-time employee; but with these tips in mind, your relationship with these independent professionals can be just as successful.