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6 Tips on Working Successfully with Freelancers Around the World

virtual-freelancer

Do you work with freelancers?

Are they from countries around the world?

In this blog we'll look at some of the issues you may be facing and how to best manage them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the very fabric of our societies and transformed traditional working models.

Whilst many businesses have been able to transition team members to virtual working arrangements, many others have been forced to scale down permanent roles.

This has consequently meant the need for more virtual freelance teams.

While a corresponding increase in freelancers can make this a win-win for all, it’s important that businesses approach arrangements with care if they are to successfully harness opportunities.

Below, we’ve included some important considerations for businesses transitioning to using a pool of global freelancers.


1. Clearly defined BRIEFS are essential

In virtual environments, it’s imperative that tasks and expectations are pinned down and clarified.

Ensure that expectations in respect to deliverables, delivery dates, payments and payment schedules are captured clearly in a single document and that a copy is communicated to all relevant parties.

This document serves as a useful framework and reference point during online meetings.

 

2. Virtual LEADERSHIP is important

Despite freelancers working autonomously, effective virtual leadership is essential.

Depending on your freelancers to deliver the goods with little input and guidance is a gamble.

Instead, get to know your freelancers and establish a relationship with them. Building rapport and trust will help ensure your freelancers are comfortable approaching you for help or direction if needed.

Make sure they know you are accessible and that you’re happy to guide them if they get stuck. Although freelancers are generally great at working on their own, it’s still a good idea to reach out to them regularly to check progress and assess potential challenges.

Be careful not to micro-manage, however as they transitioned to a freelance role for a reason.

 

3. CULTURAL understanding will go a long way

If you’re working virtually with freelancers from other cultures, then taking the time to understand potential cultural differences in working style will be helpful.

For example, if you’re working with someone from a culture which values relationships, then it’s worth investing a little more time getting to know them.

Likewise, if you’re working from a culture where time is valued over relationships, then you may want to get to the point a little more quickly and allow them to get started.

In some cultures, particularly in ‘face’ cultures, individuals may struggle to admit when they are experiencing problems.

Understanding potential red flags is made even more difficult in a virtual relationship. As such, take the time to ask lots of open questions if deadlines are of importance and, if you feel there’s a potential issue, then there probably is.

It’s important that you are prepared to try and identify them as they rarely resolve themselves.

 

4. Adhere to the project SCOPE

With permanent staff, it’s easy for responsibilities and expectations to grow.

When working virtually with freelancers however, it’s important that you manage this carefully.

Any additional responsibilities should be discussed in advance to ensure they don’t conflict with existing freelancer commitments and the factors should be clarified and incorporated into the freelancer brief discussed above, (deliverables, delivery dates, payments and payment schedules).

 

5. Don’t forget the FEEDBACK!

Whether your relationships are face to face or virtual, permanent, or freelance, everybody needs feedback.

It’s important to let your freelancers know how they are doing. Be aware however, that culture plays a role in the way in which feedback is given and received.

As such, if your freelancer is from another working culture, then take a little time to research how constructive feedback might best be given.

This topic should be a regular inclusion in your virtual meetings; helping you to ensure the role is as productive as possible.

 

6. PAY your freelancer on time

Skilled and productive freelancers expect to be paid a fair rate, on time.

Don’t try to scrimp on payments and ensure you pay them within the agreed timescales.

As the fallout from the pandemic continues, there will be plenty of other businesses waiting to capture the expertise of skilled freelancers.


To summarise...

...freelancers are a great way of building a skilled agile work force.

However, the principles of effective virtual leadership are essential if the relationship is to be as productive as possible.

Invest the time getting to know your freelancer, ensure the brief is clear, have regular virtual meetings to update on progress and pay your freelancer on time!

If you could do with more support around managing teams virtually, have a look at having your own customized webinar with one of our experts.

We help train professionals around the world on how to rise to the challenge of communicating and collaborating in global virtual teams.


 Learn about Cultural Differences in the Workplace

If you would like to learn more about working across cultures generally, why not have a look at our free cultural awareness course?

It covers areas such as team-work and communication.

Watch below or over on the course page where you can access more free resources.



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