The way companies and businesses used to work changed due to COVID-19: companies have not only started to work remotely, but also open themselves to hire remote based freelancers.
Hiring remote freelancers have many advantages, like having access to in-depth expertise of someone who’s specialized in an area you want to grow or develop, and don’t have know-how internally within the company, allowing you to achieve results fast and in a cost-effective and flexible way.
However, hiring and managing freelance specialists can be also more complex, as they’re not your employees (and have also other clients) they might not know the best way to communicate, or coordinate with your team, and lack understanding about the way your business operate, among other challenges.
It’s then fundamental to follow certain best practices when hiring and managing freelance specialists to avoid costly mistakes that can end up harming the project success.
Here are a few tips to take into consideration when hiring and managing remote freelancers:
- Decide why are you hiring freelancers
- Establish, ask and validate the hard and soft skills as well as experience to require
- Sign a legally binding contract clearly documenting the agreement
- Onboard freelancers sharing communication and coordination protocols, tools and presenting stakeholders
- Make Good Use of Remote Management Tools for a Successful Coordination
- Build an open, collaborative, long lasting professional relationship
1. Decide Why Are You Hiring Freelancers
The very first step for a successful freelancer hiring experience is to assess why you are hiring them in the first place. Do you have certain tasks within a project, complete process or a business related goal that can’t be entirely done by your team due to lack of time, resources, knowledge or particular experience?
It’s fundamental to establish the reason why are you hiring the freelance in the first place as this will allow you to establish the key requirements to take into consideration when hiring as well as goals when setting the scope and conditions of the agreement.
Weigh in the pros & cons of hiring a remote based freelance and assess if it’s the right fit for the project.
2. Establish, ask and validate the hard and soft skills as well as experience to require
Start by establishing the hard, soft skills and experience to look when hiring the freelancer:
What are the critical skills that you need the freelancer to have to perform the expected activities and achieve the desired goals? From a programming language for a developer, or tool/platform experience for a marketer, list those fundamental skills to request.
Then also, do the same for soft skills, and develop a list of those like effective communication, dependability, attention to detail, that are key for a successful work relationship.
Additionally, specify the level of experience required for the type of work: Similar successful projects using a certain platform or technology or a minimum experience working in similar projects in your company’s industry.
Get in touch with freelancers that have the established needed skills and experience:
Once you have the skills and experience you need to hire, you can use whether general or specialized freelancers platforms (where you will be able to check of freelancers profiles, skills and previous work reviews/ratings) or post the freelance job details in remote job boards that also allow them, like the free Remoters Job board.
Some of the best known freelance platforms are:
- Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Guru: Find freelancers from a variety of professions.
- Dribble: Find and hire designers and illustrators.
- Codeable: Find and hire WordPress developers.
You might also ask for recommendations and suggestions of great freelancers within your community or industry, if other companies that you know (and trust) are willing to refer them, chances are they’re reliable for you to at least check they fulfill all of the needed requirements in your particular case.
Interview and validate skills and expectations to hire:
Look for those freelancers that comply with the skills and experience you’re looking for, check on their portfolio and requests for testimonials/referrals on previous work that you should ideally be able to check.
For instance, if you want to hire a graphic designer, look for a candidate who show a strong portfolio of similar work that you like and testimonials of previous clients praising their creativity, responsiveness, etc
Interview those freelancers that showcase the needed hard skills and experience validation to also make sure that they showcase the required soft-skills, and show professionalism and empathy in the interactions with you.
Test that they have what you’re looking for during the interview too, from the skills, previous experiences, etc. and see what are the questions they ask to you to move forward with the project: do they care about understanding the goals and making sure there’s a good fit? It’s fundamental to make sure you’re both aligned on the expectations, scope and goal of the work before agreeing on anything.
Whether it’s about your relationship, communication time, emergency situations, and you name it. Check if the way the freelancer work is aligned to what you expect: From timelines, availability during certain timezones, minimum tech requirements to be able to work from wherever they are, deadlines, to your budget and how and when you are going to pay, you don’t want to rely on assumptions as it will only hurt your work process, and is better to validate early on if you’re aligned for a successful collaboration.
Gus Pelogia, SEO Lead at Teamwork says:
“1 – Start by asking what is their workflow (e.g. business hours). 2 – Have clear tasks and deliverable dates, especially at the end of calls – Everyone has 100 ideas but only a few really to be done. Have them documented in a common space. 3 – Ask 2 x if the request is doable.”
Before signing any contracts and start to work together, it’s fundamental to have a conversation validating those aspects specified above.
3. Sign a legally binding contract clearly documenting the agreement
Once that you’ve chosen and agreed with the freelancer the project scope, deadlines, budget, payments times, goals to achieve, etc. it’s fundamental that you sign a legally binding contract that documents everything you’ve agreed regarding the project, and specifies the conditions, from privacy to ownership of the work, as well as what to do in case the project is not developed as expected, what would happen if some of the conditions are broken. Nothing should start until an agreement that you both agreed on is signed.
If you don’t know where to start for them, take a look at these websites providing templates for freelancers agreements:
- Wise freelance contract template
- Pandadoc freelance contract template
- Jotform freelance contract template
- LegalTemplates freelance contract template
4. On-board freelancers sharing communication and coordination protocols, tools, and presenting stakeholders
It’s time to begin working! To make sure that the freelancer has access to the needed information and people to work on the project, as well as understanding of the context, it’s fundamental to onboard them and set a workflow, making sure they have all what is needed for the project, from accesses to tools, agreeing on when/how to use them, to put them in touch with the relevant team members to collaborate, and setting an on-going communication schedule, as well as the project milestones and deadlines.
To start Atlassian Community Cologne, says:
“Workflow would be. On-bording page in Confluence – Checklists that the person is technically enabled – the person writes a short introduction and adds a photo – in-depth training and buddy system to get them into your kind of work in no-time. A dedicated person for all questions”
Introduce them to the people they are going to stay in touch with, to the tools you’ll be using to follow-up with the project/process, and agreed on the timelines and where/when and with whom to communicate depending on the issue to address.
Ideally, you should have a “project manager” in charge who should be the main person of contact, in charge to clarify any doubts about the usage of the tools or whatever questions of the freelancers, especially at the start.
Aiswarya Menon, Marketing manager at Decentro, says:
“-fix on a mutually comfortable channel to communicate -write a skeleton- headings, brief on each, links to support. Get it reviewed, align accordingly, only then flesh in the content. Avoids back n forths majorly! -get inputs & bg on imp features relevant to an article, for shortterm collabs. Decks, explainer videos, quick walkthrough for long-time collab. -mutually comfortable mode of payment. Fixed time to raise invoices!”
5. Make Good Use of Remote Management Tools for a Successful Coordination
Managing a remote-based team requires you to make use of online based communication, coordination, and productivity tools, however, it’s critical that to avoid coordination challenges besides giving access to tools you also provide clear guidelines about how and when to use them depending on the scenario, with clear async protocols to follow.
Tess Voecks, SEO and Senior Director of Project Management at Local SEO Guide:
“having clear lines of communication and a way to lay out project details that integrates with your in-house workflow/project management system.”
Take a look at this guide to follow an async first approach in terms or communication and collaboration with your remote team and freelancers and those top virtual workspaces software & solutions for remote teams that you need to check out to facilitate coordination.
6. Build an open, collaborative, long lasting professional relationship
Build an everlasting relationship with the freelancers you collaborate with. If you are just hiring freelancers to accomplish a certain set of common or popular activities, then you might have to look for freelancers every once in a while. However, if you start building a relationship with them right off the bat, you’ll find a long-lasting, trustworthy partner for recurring projects.
For this, make sure to develop a professional relationship based on trust, respect and openness, make sure to involve them in the project they’re collaborating on, and ask them for feedback too. Karl L Hughes, from draft.dev, says:
“When working with remote freelancers, clear expectations and openness to questions make a big difference…”
Although hiring your first remote based freelancer might seem as something very risky at the start, in reality, if you go through certain steps and validations to make sure they have the required skills and experience, and to establish and align on what’s expected and that the desired goals and understood, with a good onboarding process and clear coordination and communication protocols to follow, you should be looking into a successful professional collaboration for the long run!
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