Freelancers are a great way to augment your workforce without taking on full-time employees. They often have highly specialized skills or niche experience to offer to your business, and can be paid for specific projects on an ad-hoc basis.
While you might have some freelancers who need to come into the office and work alongside an existing local team, remote freelancers are those who work fully or primarily from a location of their choice.
Key Elements of Managing Remote Freelancers
Remote freelancers need their own strategy, as your business can’t rely on the systems and processes you’ve put into place for office staff. Here are a few areas to consider.
The world is quite literally your oyster when finding remote freelancers. You can hire freelancers from anywhere around the globe, which can feel daunting at first! Consider whether you need freelancers to be available during a specific time zone, or if — on the contrary, it could be helpful to onboard workers who have different working hours. In this case, they could tag team on supporting customers or complement one another’s schedules.
If your standard approach to contractor onboarding is to have freelancers come into the office to sign all the necessary paperwork or be trained on common systems and processes, you’ll need to think again. Remote freelancers need a way to onboard from their location, including collecting all the right documentation and satisfying the needs of teams from Legal to IT.
Once your remote freelancers start working, you’ll want to know what they are up to, especially if they are supporting multiple departments in your organization. Consider how you’re going to track their open projects, gather feedback, and measure availability. If information stays locked in a project manager’s head, this can cause bottlenecks and blind spots.
Communication and Performance Monitoring
When you have a single freelancer, it can be easy to manage tasks and communication via email, or even WhatsApp messages. As your business scales, and freelancers become more of a strategy for the business, this isn’t enough. A single centralized system for communication and feedback allows anyone in the business to benefit from outsourced skills, and ensures that nothing falls through the gaps.
Payment and Invoicing
Remote freelancers will usually be business owners in their own right, and have their own preferences and processes for getting paid. Some may want a wire transfer, (which can be complex depending on their location), while others will be signed up with third-party payment tools like PayPal, Venmo and more. They may want to be paid in their own currencies, or according to their own bill cycle. How will you manage this complexity as you scale?
Best Practices for Managing Remote Freelancers
At Fiverr Enterprise, we’ve collected some awesome tips and tricks over the years, learning what works when dealing with remote freelancers, and gathering a handful of ultimate best practices:
- Set Clear Expectations: Giving clear instructions is important, not just for specific tasks, but also for how you want your remote freelancers to work. Without these in place, you can easily experience miscommunications. For example, do you want availability between certain hours, or the use of a specific tool or platform? Make sure to codify all instructions so there’s a shared source of information to look back on if necessary.
- Maintain Regular Communication: While it’s poor form to expect freelancers to attend the weekly or daily team meeting, you can certainly ask for a regular catch up to make sure you’re on the same page. Ask your freelancer whether they prefer an email or chat discussion, or if they’re happy to jump on a scheduled Zoom at a regular cadence.
- Use the Right Tools: Think about the systems and tools that are going to streamline working internationally or from separate locations. This could be anything from email and messenger to Google Drive or Asana. How will you manage onboarding, compliance, gathering tax documentation, or invoices? These are all critical parts of building a strong relationship with your freelancers.
- Provide Constructive Feedback: How are your freelancers doing? Employees will have feedback locked into the way they work, for example with a yearly review or regular 1:1s. Freelancers can benefit from the same transparent feedback, but you’ll need to make an effort to provide it. If they are doing a great job, let them know! If there are areas you need them to work on, they are likely to be used to working flexibly according to different organizational needs — but they aren’t mind readers.
- Foster a Sense of Belonging: Making your freelancers feel part of the team is a great way to establish long term relationships. Keep them in the loop about business changes, invite them (optionally) to team get togethers, and include them in the in-jokes! Remember to respect cultural differences and their time zones, so they don’t feel like office supplies — but a valued member of the org.
- Legal and Contractual Compliance: Make sure you have a system in place to ensure legal and contractual compliance. This should include gathering all the right documentation when onboarding, having a risk assessment in place for misclassification of freelancers, and ensuring robust offboarding policies, too.
Tools and Technologies for Managing Remote Freelancers — Understanding the Need for Fiverr Enterprise
There are a wide number of systems and tools for managing remote freelancers that can simplify the challenges. They range from communication tools such as Slack, where all members of the same team can share channels for work and socializing to project management tools like ClickUp or Monday.com, which allow remote freelancers to be given access to project boards and track progress.
Your business can also onboard payment platforms such as Bill.com that support paying employees globally with ease.
However, the problem with many of these tools is that they offer one element of managing remote freelancers, in a silo. Slack might be a great tool for communication, but it isn’t intended for sourcing, onboarding, or payments.
A payment tool might get all your freelancers paid accurately on time, but you’ll need several other platforms for compliance, communication, and hiring. Suddenly, your IT stack is spaghetti junction, and your business is left with several black boxes to contend with.
In contrast, Fiverr Enterprise is a single Freelancer Management System, one tool to cover remote freelancer management from sourcing and onboarding, through to management, budgeting, and payments. It’s the single pane of glass you’ve been waiting for to make sure your remote freelance strategy shines.
Talk to one of our workforce experts and see how Fiverr Enterprise can seamlessly integrate with your current systems.