Have you ever wondered how a business can work effectively with remote freelancers? There’s little interaction and their cultures and work habits vary. It’s not easy to call or pop over to someone’s desk. How can a business work effectively with remote freelancerswhen they are such a diverse group?
A large percentage of the business world is going virtual despite these challenges. Tapping into the remote workforce has become the norm for many entrepreneurs. This is especially true in the e-commerce sector, where most of the work done is online anyway. They have found ways to work effectively with remote freelancers, even though they may be spread all over the world.
What may surprise you is that these businesses find that going virtual is preferable. They say that the best part of the remote hiring arrangement is that it is often mutually beneficial. Businesses have the option of recruiting skilled, sought-after talent from across the globe. They also work effectively with remote freelancers because everyone has the convenience of flexible hours and the ability to work from anywhere. On the freelancer side, they have greater satisfaction because of the greater range of freedom and opportunity they experience.
So what’s the secret sauce? What do I need to do to work effectively with remote freelancers?
In order to keep your e-commerce business running successfully, remote freelancers need to be given clear direction and parameters. Use the following strategies to work effectively with remote freelancers, ensuring maximum creativity and productivity.
Have an Onboarding Process
Remote hires can’t receive the same hands-on, face-to-face mentoring that happens under normal circumstances. That doesn’t mean you can’t create an onboarding process that is both effective and valuable to your new hire. This onboarding process will also make them feel more a part of the bigger picture. You need this especially if the new freelancer is going to be working with a group that already knows each other and works well together.
An important tool that you need to work effectively with remote freelancers is one you likely already use: video conference software. “This allows new hires to be more comfortable in conversations that create personal bonds,” according to the CultureIQ blog. Video conferencing allows them “to make eye contact and observe facial expressions that are important to interpersonal communication.”
As you onboard more remote freelancers, CultureIQ suggests that you take note of how both past and new hires respond to the process. By evaluating the process, you can learn how to work effectively with remote freelancers. Learn what works best from the real experiences of those you’ve hired.
Establish a Company Culture
Just because remote freelancers aren’t in a traditional work environment, it doesn’t mean you can’t create a thriving company culture. This culture can be defined as the shared experience that people have working for your business. When you commit to making that experience both positive and supportive, morale is boosted. When you foster a sense of camaraderie across the barriers of space, you begin to work effectively with remote freelancers.
Here are a few tips for connecting with freelancers and creating company culture:
- Set weekly video calls, both as a group and one-on-one
- Use a chat tool to keep freelancers constantly connected and communicating
- Create a peer-to-peer recognition program
- Use a quarterly feedback system to improve morale and promote the culture
Share Regular Updates
Communication is vital to ensure that remote freelancers are aware of their duties. To work effectively with remote freelancers, it also becomes essential as a way to make their value to the business known. If you’re using a chat platform, use it to post updates and announcements. This will help everyone stay on track. For example, sharing the latest presentation deck for an upcoming retail conference helps everyone stay up-to-date and get a pulse on what’s progressing. As you share these updates, name those who contributed so that they can be recognized.
Don’t forget to share updates about freelancers and the company in general. Host video calls for quarterly business updates or all-hands-on-deck meetings where freelancers can ask questions and engage.
Get Meetings in Order
Meetings are a non-negotiable aspect of running your business. They’re even more of a necessity to work effectively with remote freelancers. When someone is always late, however, you waste everyone’s time. This is especially challenging for freelancers who may be in different time zones than everyone else. These freelancers may also have other commitments and have to move their calendars around to be available for meetings.
The business experts at The Office Club say that, “Waiting for stragglers sends two messages. To the stragglers, that it’s OK to be late for meetings. To the people who showed up as agreed, that their time isn’t valuable.” To work effectively with remote freelancers, you need to respect their time. This means that you need to maximize the efficiency of your meetings. Start your meetings on time, without exception. The invariably late will adjust and the freelancers who respect your time will appreciate you.
Remote freelancers aren’t usually going to be available on the spot. Those quick desk-side brainstorming sessions that turn into spur-of-the-moment projects can be incredibly valuable. But you can’t work effectively with remote freelancers if this is your go-to setting. It’s a luxury that you need to let go of. You must always plan ahead when you’re dealing with remote freelancers. If you don’t organize them to join these sessions, you will have a hard time getting them involved. You will then lose their valuable input.
Trello contributor Lauren Moon shares one of her rules about managing remote freelancers: “no decisions are made last minute. If you have an item that requires some input and decision-making, then you are sourcing feedback well before the second you need to ship it. You can’t expect immediate answers because collaborators inevitably won’t be working the same hours as you.”
Meet in Person When Possible
While there are many strategies for connecting remotely, sometimes there’s no substitute for face time. If you can arrange a company-wide retreat in the mountains, do it. Better yet, attend a retail conference together, where you can mix business and pleasure. If none of these options work, make it a point, as the business owner, to meet informally once a quarter, if the budget allows.
When freelancers are able to convene in a fixed setting, the result is priceless—there’s no replacement for in-person brainstorming that leads to creative new ideas that wouldn’t have otherwise come up. “It’s one thing to send GIFs back-and-forth,” suggests Remote Wise, but when you actually physically meet to brainstorm, it “takes the relationship up a notch.”
Go Remote; Reap the Benefits
As the e-commerce industry becomes more virtual, choosing to hire from across the globe has definite advantages. The key to making sure you work effectively with remote freelancers is to make these 6 simple adjustments. It isn’t that many things, really, and even taking one right now can make a world of difference despite the distance.
What can you commit to today? Will you make meetings a priority? Do you want to plan to meet a few freelancers face-to-face? Maybe you can start defining your company culture? Whichever one you choose, it’s a vital step.
When you bring everyone together regardless of where they’re located, you begin to work effectively with remote freelancers. Ready to get started? Check out the FreeeUp online hiring resources, including guidelines for setting expectations and improving communications. If you haven’t hired yet, sign up with FreeeUp and create your first freelancer request within minutes.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a content marketing consultant and small business owner. She’s been part of a growing startup for 3 years, where she continues to learn about running business and being resourceful. She’s been featured on Forbes and Business Insider, and has written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more.