Working with freelance experts who work remotely

More and more businesses are moving away from the traditional ways of hiring and owning permanent employees in favor of borrowing skills from experienced and remote freelance experts.

The movement towards project-based tasks and demand for highly specialised skills are some of the reasons why hiring freelance experts is on the rise. Hiring a freelancer is no longer a cost management solution for restructuring periods, but it is all about bringing in specific skills to a company at a time they need them most.

The challenge therefore for any company embracing the gig economy is how to maximize that professional talent while retaining work quality and flexibility. Working with experienced remote experts does require some shifts to make a project a success. We have outlined the essential things you need to keep in mind for a successful remote collaboration.

1. Give Adequate Information

The common mistake that most clients make on online talent platforms is leaving out important details when describing their project. This can be a costly mistake as it means that you run the risk of attracting and getting the wrong expert for the project.

To ensure you secure the right expert for your project, make sure you provide as much information as possible that will help an expert understand your project requirements. This could include any background information about the project, the tasks involved, the end goal you are wanting to achieve, who they will be working with and timelines. If appropriate be sure to upload any documents that might be relevant which provide further insight.

By providing enough detailed information this will also allow experts to ask questions to further clarify their role in the project, while demonstrating how they can use their skill set and expertise to meet your needs.

2. Create an On-boarding Strategy

How effective you are at on-boarding your remote workers will determine their overall enthusiasm, effectiveness and even loyalty. Companies with a robust on-boarding experience have shown to have high retention rates, especially during the first year of engagement. A good on-boarding process helps to make the expert feel valued and keeps them in line with the company goals and culture from the day one.

Below are a few tips that you can implement into your on-boarding strategy for remote freelance experts:

  • Virtually connect them into the office. Provide the freelance expert with clear lines of communication and access to other team members they will need to communicate with. If necessary provide the freelance expert with their own company email address to make them feel more connected and part of the team.
  • Collect all the necessary project documentation before they begin work. To keep productivity high, make sure your freelance experts have all the information that they need to perform their tasks.
  • Provide access to data. A big part of the sharing economy is providing access to essential data required to move the project forward. Remember to prepare and give your freelance expert access to the relevant data to help them with decision making.
  • Set the right pace. You will want to ensure that you don’t overwhelm them with too much information at once. Share the data and information in chunks and gradually add more as you proceed to the later stages.

Your freelance on-boarding strategy does not have to be too elaborate or lengthy. Nevertheless, having a considerate plan can assist in making your project go along way quickly without any hassles while setting the foundation for a fruitful and productive relationship.

3. Give Enough Space for Work

If you created a detailed project description and have chosen an expert to join your remote team, then you need to give them space to do their work. Progress reports, feedback and directions are all invaluable to the successful collaboration between yourself and the expert. Resist the urge to micromanage every step of the project and remember if you’ve done the recruitment process correctly, then the person you have assigned to the task is a skilled expert and you chose them for the experience. Step back and let them do their work.

4. Provide Prompt Feedback

Whether it’s a micro gig or a long-term project, you should be available and open to answering potential questions from your experts. The opposite of micro-managers is those clients who disappear and are not easily reachable to provide feedback or answer questions which not only affects productivity but leads to delays.

To avoid mistakes and confusion, encourage your remote workers to ask questions and for clarification as they go. This will ensure that they are confident they are moving in the right direction and that their output is conforming to the company brand and culture.

Even more important when providing feedback, is to ensure that it is of high quality. Avoid comments like, “I’m not sure what the issue is, it just doesn’t fit; give me another version.” This type of feedback is quite vague and does not provide any helpful information. The better approach when sharing feedback is to give reasons for any submissions you do not like and discuss how they should be modified to fit your needs going forward.

5. Protect your Internal Data

Making sure that your private information is safe is essential when working in the high-end gig economy. You will be likely providing access to sensitive information during the project, and you want to ensure that the data is always secure. Ensure you have robust agreements that state who owns the intellectual property and that your ideas are protected.

You can take these steps to keep your information safe:

  • Have the freelance professional sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
  • Vet the freelancers before starting the project or choose from our pool of pre-vetted experts.
  • Complete reference checks from previous clients.
  • Read reviews, google their name, search LinkedIn and other social media platforms
  • Use version control to track the edits and have the option of going back to previous versions.
  • Own your essential business documents and store them in your secure internal systems which you can cut access to at any time.

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