9 Tips for Leading Teams of Freelancers
Did you know that the total number of freelancers in the US hit 57 million in 2018?
That number continues to rise as more and more people abandon the traditional employment setup for a flexible lifestyle.
It’s not just that the future of employment is heading the freelance way, the benefits are immense for both the workers and employers.
Freelancing means flexible hours and more control for the worker. For the employer, it means landing top-notch talent without the burden of an ongoing salary and other benefits like 401(k), medical and dental insurance, etc.
It’s a win-win!
But, after hiring freelancers, you quickly learn the difference compared to an in-house team. Freelancers are remote, they are not as familiar with your brand, and they need an effective management system to perform as smoothly as an in-house team.
If you’re in charge of a team of freelancers, here are some pointers to help you run an efficient team and get the most out of the industry.
1. Create a Freelance Structure in Advance
When it comes to turning a team of effective freelancers into a well-oiled machine, you have to do everything correctly right from the start.
You need a freelance structure that will guide your actions from the beginning.
Let’s see how your structure might look.
You’ve already identified the need for remote outside help.
Next (and this is important!), come up with a profile of the individuals you want to hire and the skill-sets you need. Allow yourself enough time to dig through freelancing sites or to get quality responses from your job ads.
It may take you a while to find the best matches and that is why you can’t afford to put things off to the last minute.
Your structure should also detail the responsibility of each individual on your team, and define the project type, duration of work, and much more. If possible, jot every single thing down — you’ll need it!
2. Be Thorough With Orientation
One of the biggest challenges of a freelance setup is that freelancers don’t have an in-depth knowledge of your business. They work within the confines of what you give them.
It’s up to you as the leader to cover every important aspect of your business during orientation — or at least what you deem important enough or necessary to help them do their job well.
3. Share Your Vision With Them
The idea of hiring a freelancer may seem a little detached compared to having an employee. You may not feel the need to have them share your brand’s vision because, well, they are freelancers.
However, freelancers can be coached, trained, and inspired to do their very best.
It’d be worthwhile to share your vision with your freelancing team and let them believe in it as much as you and your internal team do.
4. Set Aside a Freelance Budget
A defined budget is something you have to consider long before you secure a freelance team. It’ll guide your decisions on who to hire and on what terms.
You don’t want to run into a funding problem in the middle of a project with a team that enjoys flexibility in payments. It’s also worth considering that freelancers come with various rates.
So, set aside a defined budget and base everything else on it to ensure that nothing interrupts your work.
5. Define Roles
With freelancers, you want to be extra clear about what you want done and how you want it. If possible, break down the project into a series of milestones and define specific roles for each person on the team.
Additionally, you have to be cautious when moving around a freelancer from one role to another. Usually, this is not a problem with an internal team, considering you are within the vicinity to oversee the process.
Freelancers are often restricted by distance, time zones, resources, etc. For this reason, alternating roles in a freelance setting can create confusion if not handled with care.
6. Ensure Open Communication
It’s vital that communication remains at the core of a freelance setup. Everything depends on it since your team comprises individuals working remotely.
Open up an easily accessible line of communication with your team so that they can consult with you at all times. Communication allows you to follow their progress closely eliminating chances of unwarranted mistakes.
7. Maintain Reasonable Deadlines
One of the key ways to getting the most out of freelancers is to be reasonable with deadlines.
You don’t want to be that last-minute boss everyone dreads. If a project has a tight time-frame, then communicate it early and let your team work out how best to approach it.
8. Use a Team Management Software
This is hardly negotiable. You obviously want to simulate an office environment as much as possible to ensure everything runs smoothly.
A freelance management tool gathers everyone on your project in one place where you can connect and work in real-time.
Check out some of the popular project management tools you can use:
- Zoho workplace
9. Introduce Payment Options
Freelancers prefer options when it comes to payment.
Some of your team may be scattered all over the world, meaning one or two payment channels may not be that convenient.
Of course, it’s up to you to determine what’s best for your business and choose payment systems at your discretion.
However, if you can offer your freelance team several payment alternatives to pick from, that would be better. It’d enable things to run efficiently by creating an atmosphere of caring and convenience.
There’s a myth making rounds out there that freelancers are wildcards who just want the money.
While it’s true that freelancers prefer the flexibility that comes with their lifestyle, they also take seriously what they do as they are not sheltered by the security of a guaranteed paycheck.
The system works, perfectly! With careful consideration and planning, you can lead a successful team of freelancers to rival any in-house structure.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Flagstaff to help them with their online marketing.