Flexible Working Arrangements: Managing Freelancers

Flexible Working Arrangements: Managing Freelancers 918 516 Kanhai Chhugani

In a rising gig economy, you need to have tools in place to manage your remote workers

Did you know that India is considered the second largest market for freelancers after the US?

We have close to 15 million freelancers who bag almost 40% of the projects across the globe – and this statistic pertains only to independent content consultants. The US, in contrast, has approximately 53 million freelancers and the tribe is growing with increasing digitalization!.

Freelancers are not employees; they are independent consultants who work from anywhere, anytime – and that is a big challenge for HR managers – how to count, manage and monitor their output?

How to communicate effectively with them and have them abide consistently by deadlines. Further how to spell out the rules of engagement ahead of time through legally-binding contractual arrangements, and invest enough in project management software to manage their output.

Flexible working arrangements are a modern-day dilemma

With globalization and the possibility of working remotely, Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) has become an integral feature of a modern-day workplace. A necessary evil. The practice is globally recognized, and adopted by organizations, across the world to increase productivity and to let workers better manage their work-life balance.

Economic downturns often force companies to reduce expenses and cut down on the employee benefits. It’s also done to keep employee morale and prevent the loss of talented employees.

As we move into 2018, newer software platforms now give startups the ability and competence to manage freelancers, remotely. Products like Basecamp allow project managers to create a task list, and allow both the company and freelancer to communicate through shared notes, documents, and deadlines. There are also freelance management systems (FMS) that help you hunt down oversee freelancers. Elance (Now an Upwork company), Guru, Odesk and Work Market are examples of FMS that helps find, verify, onboard, track, and keep companies compliant with the local norms governing on-demand workforce. Some popular software also let remote managers rate work.

Tips for HR on managing remote freelancers

Here are a few simple suggestions you can skim through:

Have goals in place

Before assigning freelancers to projects, you may need to align them with your corporate goals and match your expectations with theirs’. You need to find freelancers who share the same value-set so it becomes easy for you to communicate with them.

Define the goals of the project, their roles in it, what you expect from the freelancers, and communicate clearly and unambiguously on how the project has to be delivered.

Set definite time agendas

Right from the onset, set clear schedule and setting time agenda, so you get your work delivered on time, always.

Maintain the communication line

These days, there are so many means available – Skype, IM, or emails to remain in a tight communication loop with your freelancers on various projects.

Respect their freedom

They don’t work around or by the clock. This is their preferred lifestyle – respect their choice. Don’t expect them to be at your beck and call 24-hours a day – they will never be. Therefore, don’t draft the same set of company rules for them as for your other full-timers.

As long as your deadlines are being met, chill.

Solicit ideas

Do not just assign monotonous and administrative tasks to your freelance pool. Many are abuzz with ideas and can bring fresh perspectives to the table. It might be a good idea to actively seek out their opinions and ideas. Test and try.

Give feedback

Just as you do with your regular employees, provide constructive feedback on their skills.

In a rising gig economy, freelancers can really help you to streamline your projects and deliveries. Pick and choose freelancers from a trusted third-party hiring platform, so you remain in full control and firmly in the driver’s seat on the project.

(In our next blog, find out about the best automation tools for managing distant workers, including freelancers and independent contractors).