As you know, people are the most valuable asset of the working process – they are professionals who form a collaborative group and lead the project to become successful and achieve high results. The article 10 Reasons Why You Should Start Hiring Remote Freelancers tells about all the delights of working with remote freelancers. But what’s next?
Remote work is a great idea if the interaction between a manager and remote freelancers is organized appropriately.
The result of the company’s activities largely depends on how remote freelancers are coordinated and motivated to work. Each component is important – from the successful search for remote freelancers and the customization of the workflow to the organization of onboarding within the business and an adequate approach to measuring remote freelancers’ performance.
Set the company development strategy.
When moving to remote collaboration, you need to:
- determine the number of remote freelancers
- determine levels of competence
- develop or implement systems for assessing performance
- create a working virtual environment
- develop standards for corporate security, taking into account the caveats of hiring remote freelancers
- calculate economic costs for the above points to assess the economic benefits of remote cooperation for your business
There is an opinion that many people who work from home tend to dampen, and their productivity begins to fall.
This postulate is fundamentally untrue since managing remote freelancers can be even simpler than managing people in an office. Working with remote freelancers can be real test for your managerial skills, however, if you don’t get it right.
It suffices to follow these basic principles:
Define each task clearly.
With a convenient project management system, you will always be aware of what issues are put on each freelancer, and you will be able to find out how things are with this or that task at any time.
“Here is the task with a clear description, here is the deadline” – in this case remote freelancers cannot refer to the fact that they misunderstood the requirements or did not know anything about the terms. Responsible remote freelancers are not fond of such things, but even their memory can play tricks on them. Help them further by assisting them with time management. You can install Kanban scheduler system so they can track projects in the Trello service, for instance.
Evaluate the work by the result, and not by the time spent.
Sometimes this is a real world-view shift – both for the remote freelancers themselves and for you, the business owner. If you build a workflow and motivation system correctly, remote freelancers will work even faster and more efficiently than office-based workers would. They do not need to sweat away in vain, and there is also a real incentive to work quickly and efficiently. The main thing is that the performance indicators should be specific, measurable and take into account the specificity of the profession. For example, the volume of the salesman’s work can be measured by the number of calls and meetings, and the dispatcher by the number of processed applications, and so on.
Therefore, establish clear KPIs to control the work on projects – what goals should be met and by what time should remote freelancers complete each one to get rewards (and not penalty points)? This way you will get rid of the micro-control and begin to trust remote freelancers, and they will not have to face the challenge of coordinating their work times so closely with yours.
Organize a comfortable workspace in the cloud.
Access to work tools and instructions should be available to all remote freelancers who may need them. The only possible solution in a setup when you hire remote freelancers is to transition to services that allow you to work without being dependent on the location of remote freelancers. Cloud services will help even if you have moved your main office all the way to Thailand and you need to communicate with people who are in the U.S.
Divide your company into departments. Each group of remote freelancers working in these different areas can independently decide which tools and applications to use for work. They are the experts in these areas, and the autonomy will encourage better performance. For general communications, you can use Slack or Skype. Remote freelancers can create different chat rooms or chat groups and share files as needed. You can use mentions to send notifications about a message to a certain group of people or set up your own notifications for specific words. You can also call each other when you need to have a good talk about a project.
Programmers also recommend GitHub. They say it’s convenient since both the code and the tasks are stored in one place. Designers and managers prefer Trello. To store files, these remote freelancers can use Google Drive or Dropbox. There is also BambooHR, which stores all the information about remote freelancers, including reports, their local holidays and more.
Implement a reasonable control system.
The degree of control depends on the nature of the tasks that remote freelancers are working on. In some cases, it is enough to check how things are going from time to time, for example, to request sales statistics or control the workflow. It’s still easier if a person is working on specific projects. There is a task, there is a deadline, there are criteria for assessing the quality of the result.
Let’s say a designer needs to make a layout in two days. It is their own business how to use the allotted time – some immediately start to work, others need to gather strength and tune in to the task. Yes, it is quite possible that a person needs to hang for a couple of hours on entertainment sites for inspiration. If this does not interfere with the task in terms of time, then there’s no problem.
The idea of remote freelancers fooling around instead of working is the main prejudice that is keeping business owners away from introducing remote freelancers into their businesses.
A good idea is a daily report on what remote freelancers did that day and what tasks they plan to do next. This practice will help to add a complete picture of what is happening and make sure that you are always aware of what remote freelancers are doing.
Choose the most convenient way to communicate.
When you and remote freelancers are separated by time zones, it may happen that you have a working day in full swing, but for them, it`s late evening, the wee hours of the morning and somewhere in between. Accordingly, if you urgently need their help, there will be some problems.
The output is simple and obvious: create a map of when all freelancers – both in your office and remote – can get in touch. Have each set of freelancers coordinate with each other so that they can communicate amongst themselves easily. Then coordinate with remote freelancers to mark off the times that you can reach them. Try to create a single virtual working environment in which interaction between all members and units – accounting, marketing, etc. – is firmly established.
To discuss working moments, you can use one of the offered messengers. Which one is up to you. Some like Messenger and Microsoft Project, , others prefer Team Viewer or Google network services. The list is endless. There are many tools with which you can use to gather remote freelancers and give them the opportunity to discuss work items as quickly and easily as in a physical office. In order not to get lost in the flow of messages, start a few chats dedicated to different areas of activity.
Let’s sum up.
It is not easy to build a cohesive group of remote freelancers who will create a quality output at the same time interact well, but every day it becomes more and more possible. There are new services and tools, the interest of people in becoming remote freelancers is growing, and the owners of companies find the advantages of such a solution for business irresistible. To succeed, remote freelancers must be integrated into the existing work environment and bring a clearly marked utility to the business. Also, do not forget to motivate remote freelancers and introduce them to your values and goals.
The experience of many successful companies broke down the stereotype that people can only work efficiently in an office. With the competent organization of interactions between remote freelancers , performance has not only reached par with office productivity but even significantly exceeds it.
What relationships do you have with remote freelancers? What solutions do you employ to improve workflow efficiency?
Laura Greene is one of the content managers for TrustedEmployees – creative people who provide businesses, non-profits, and volunteer organizations with a tailored and compliant approach to background screening through personalization, innovation, and dedication.