Working with freelancers offers a low-risk opportunity to supercharge your business or organisation with highly specialised and experienced professionals, whilst also increasing your capacity to deliver. However, to deliver projects seamlessly it pays to invest some time and thought into how you will set the relationship up and manage it through the project life cycle.
Here are our top-tips for successfully recruiting and working with a freelance team or individual:
Define the brief
Creating a brief for a freelancer or freelance team for even small projects or tasks will pay big dividends. A single document setting out your objectives, team roles and responsibilities, anticipated outputs and project milestones will allow you to set clear expectations and keep track of progress throughout. Providing examples of work or brands you like at this stage can also help brief a freelancer quickly on the style of work you are looking for.
Hire the right people
This is the single most important step. Making sure you have the right person for the right role will save you a world of pain later. It can be time consuming to drill down when you are looking for freelancers with specific skills or sector experience and it can be tempting to recruit first candidate you meet or appoint on a peer recommendation. We would recommend either allowing yourself ample time to conduct a detailed recruitment process, as you would with an employee, or to work with a talent agency such as CommsPeople, who know their talent pool so can make shortcuts to the right people, provide a shortlist, and generally speed things up and take the heavy lifting out of the process.
Don’t skip the onboarding process
As a seasoned freelancer, I am still surprised that so many businesses overlook the onboarding process. If your new team member spends their first few days of the project tracking down log in details, finding documents and working out who the key stakeholders are, it wastes their time and your money. Spending a short amount of time accumulating the relevant contact details, log ins and documents to send as part of a project pack will get the project off on the right note. Sending introductions to other team members and/or stakeholders also helps the freelancer feel welcome.
Put project management systems in place
Once you have a specialist freelancer on board it is tempting to leave them to get on with it and focus on the rest of your workload. However, this can lead to lack of visibility and missed opportunities down the track, especially with everyone wok remotely. Agree upfront how and when you want to communicate, ideally diarizing regular project meetings and sticking to them. Letting freelancers know when the best time to contact you or if there are specific times when you won’t be available can also be helpful. For larger projects, there are a huge number of project management platforms, from Slack to Microsoft Teams out there to help manage dispersed teams, so find one that works for you.
Do the legal bits right
It is easy to be a bit more relaxed with freelancers than you would with employees, but things do go wrong so it is well worth sorting out a contract or at the very least a Statement of Work and Letter of Agreement. Also bear in mind that with the introduction of IR35 the onus is on the client to determine the tax status of freelancers they are hiring. Finally, think through an GDPR implications that may arise.
In a nutshell, invest a bit of time upfront in setting up your relationship with you will reap benefits. CommsPeople can guide you through the process, so drop us a line if you’d like to discuss your next project.