How to get the best from your freelance workforce

The world of work is changing rapidly

Nearly 162 million people across the EU, the UK and the US are now independent workers, and this number is growing. To make the most of this change in working habits, companies need to think carefully about how they manage their relationships with an independent workforce.

Building, maintaining and recording good relationships

In a conventional business, the information about permanent employees is the HR department’s territory; with an independent workforce, this is rarely the case. A freelance contractor’s details might only be known by the specific team or department they worked with, rather than held centrally; therefore, it becomes difficult to find information about the contractor and to decide whether to work with them again.

It is important to record how much a freelancer costs, whether they completed the work on time, how satisfied you were with their work, and how well they communicated with the team or fit into your company. If you find a good independent contractor, you want to be able to use them again.

Have a clear strategy for freelance workers

Companies can offer permanent employees benefits, pensions and job security, but these do not attract freelancers; instead, you need to consider what your company can offer to ensure that the best freelancers want to work for you.

One way is to be clear about how you expect your freelancers to fit into your company; for example, do you need them to be on site every day, or is remote working preferential? How – and how often – do you want them to communicate with the rest of the team? You also need to be clear about how you will brief them, and – very importantly – how and when you will pay them.

Freelancers like to have a clear idea of what you want from them and of what they can expect from you.

A fit for your firm’s culture

Looking for a freelancer who understands your company’s goals and methods is really important, as companies that hire freelancers regularly and successfully understand. If you make it clear in your brief what your company is about and what you hope to achieve, freelancers will have a better understanding of who they are working for and how they need to work; after all, they want to work with likeminded people in addition to earning a substantial daily rate.

Create loyalty and respect

Businesses will be hiring more freelancers in the future as working patterns continue to change and skills become more fluid and portable. Successful businesses will build relationships with freelancers, understanding that they are a core part of the company’s work rather than ‘add-ons’. If you can build a network of trusted independent contractors – people who you know you can work with and who you know can do their job well – you will have a real advantage in the business world of the future.

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