To say – “Today is the time of the Freelancers” would be an understatement. The trend of so many corporate employees giving up their 9-5 jobs to take up flexible working and enjoying the freedom of freelancing is increasingly visible.

This presents a considerable opportunity for small and medium enterprises which are continuously being pulled in different directions by tasks that demand attention. From fluctuating demand to the need for specialised skill sets, hiring freelancers is an efficient way to manage the situation.

The primary benefits of hiring a freelancer are the flexibility, ability to increase staff as per demand, pick and choose work-ready talent with specific skills, such that training will not be required. Moreover, with payroll being a huge chunk of fixed costs for businesses, hiring freelancers lets firms convert them into variable costs.

Managing freelancers can be difficult as they don’t come with knowledge of the ins and outs of your business and your clients’ businesses. Additionally, freelancers usually maybe working on multiple assignments at any given point of time and in most cases, the staff will be in different locations.

Here are some tips to manage freelancers and get the most out of the engagement.

Capacity Planning: Creating a capacity planning tracker will help analyse your needs and plan for staffing in a much better manner. Looking for freelance staff at the last minute will always be difficult, so it would be a good idea to create a “go-to team” – an “A-team” for serious, important jobs and your “junior-level team” to handle smaller projects.

Hiring & Onboarding: Identifying & hiring the freelancer with exact skills you require is critical but also assessing the freelancers for softer skills like accountability, ownership, and commitment is equally important. Onboarding freelancers by sharing your vision, core values, customer philosophy is a must. Sharing an employee expectation document sets up the freelancer for success. Also, hiring a person with the right years of experience should be considered. Hiring someone with 20 years of experience for a junior-level project thinking that the job will get done faster and better and save you money may not work. More likely, the freelancer will be bored and will squeeze your job in between bigger jobs that he or she is excited about.

Continuous Engagement: Building relationships and caring for freelancers is equally important. Taking time to understand them and their learning needs and career aspirations can go a long way in building a thriving relationship with freelancers. Treat them as well as you would treat your own employees because they actually are.

Scope of Work: Giving a detailed brief so that the freelancers know precisely what the project is and what’s needed, including budget, deadlines, materials, and most importantly, deliverables. Leave nothing open-ended. Clear communication on what’s expected of them beyond deliverables like meeting time frames, quality of output, check-ins, reports, etc.

Communication: create a system of effective collaboration and communication. Setting up effective email protocol – TAT for response both ways. Creating a clear agenda for meetings, wrap up notes, check in schedules and a system to ensure the freelancers can reach out and ask questions when they need.

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