Is freelance management stressful?
We won’t lie to you. It certainly can be if you spend most of your time switching between spreadsheets and multiple software to access all the information you need to communicate, onboard, supervise, and pay your talent pool.
Fortunately, there are plenty of workarounds to ensure the smooth management of your freelance talent pool.
So, to help you put your best foot forward, below, we're sharing our four top tips on how to successfully manage your freelancers.
There’s a fair amount to cover, so let’s dive straight in!
1. Simplify Onboarding
First things first, let’s clarify what we mean by onboarding:
In short, onboarding refers to the process of integrating a new worker into your organization and familiarizing them with their role and your business processes. It’s also the point at which you ensure all your documentation complies with local employment laws; employees are made aware of your company’s policies, they're issued a company handbook (if applicable), etc.
Whenever you work with a new freelancer, you’ll need to onboard them. This process customarily requires lots of paperwork. For example:
The freelancer’s bank details need to be noted to ensure prompt payment
They freelancer may have to sign work contracts and non-disclosure agreements.
You may need to issue the freelancer with a copy of your employee handbook
Tax-related forms may need to be processed.
…to name a few!
With so much to cover, onboarding can take a long time if you have to reference and cross-reference different documents and information from various sources, such as Excel, Word, and even filing cabinets.
Of course, if you’re battling against project deadlines, you might be tempted to dash through the onboarding process. However, by doing this, you increase the likelihood of forgetting to collect essential documents and other information like:
NDAs (non-disclosure agreements)
IPAs (intellectual property agreements)
Non-compete contracts or clauses
Freelancer contact information
Freelancer financial information, including their preferred payment method and currency
Any relevant tax documentation required by the country or member state you and the freelancer reside in
Requests for IT equipment and access to IT/software systems
…failing to retrieve the above could result in massive headaches in the long run. For example, you wouldn’t want to find out in tax season that you’re missing crucial information from a worker to complete your taxes or that a freelancer wasn’t aware of how you handle customer information according to GDPR compliance. Of course, these are two of many hiccups that could occur, but hopefully, you get the gist!
So, what’s the solution?
Fortunately, you can simplify the onboarding process by using an FMS. An FMS or freelancer management system is a software platform that facilitates collaboration with freelance workers or independent contractors and their projects from one centralized place.
So, how can an FMS help with onboarding?
To answer this question, let’s look at an example. Bubty is one such FMS. It offers an integrated contract management system where both parties can digitally sign agreements, allowing for easy contract creation, signing, and storage. In addition, all onboarding contracts (as listed above) are kept in one cloud-based repository). This eliminates the need for physical signatures, filing cabinets, and back-and-forth email chains.
Freelancers can also fill out their own profiles with all their basic information and upload any necessary documentation through a self-service platform. Again, this negates the need for confusing email threads. The platform also facilitates online chat so you can quickly communicate whenever a question needs answering.
2. Know Your Freelancer’s Availability
Depending on the location and the pre-agreed working arrangement with your freelancers, you might have a few scheduling issues that need juggling. For instance:
Time zone differences: If you’re hiring from further afield or even abroad, your freelancers may be located in different time zones, making scheduling challenging.
Availability: Freelancers often balance multiple clients and projects simultaneously, so you can’t always assume that your freelancer will be available at the drop of a hat.
Communication delays: If freelancers aren’t available during the same working hours as you, it may result in communication delays and slower project progress.
Time tracking: Tracking the time freelancers spend on specific tasks can be difficult and time-consuming, particularly if the times recorded don’t match up with invoices.
Suffice it to say when it comes to managing freelancers, scheduling must be done well to ensure that deadlines are met.
Again, this is where an FMS can lend a helping hand. For instance, Bubty offers a freelancer availability feature that lets you see when freelancers within your network are available to work. This information allows you to schedule freelancers to work at specified times and/or dates.
Working across timezones is easy with Bubty’s in-built chat functionality. This allows you to chat in real-time. However, you can also leave a message for the recipient to pick up later. It’s also easy to set reminders to ensure everyone involved in a project is notified of upcoming deadlines or essential changes to the project.
Freelancers can also easily track their time and generate their expenses. On the flip side, this enables your company to get an insight into how much time has been spent on a specific project per day or week. As a result, both parties should be on the same page where invoicing is concerned.
3. Set up a Sustainable Communication Infrastructure
It’s probably no surprise that 86% of employees say a lack of communication and effective collaboration is the instigator of most workplace failures. Of course, this can become an even bigger problem when you need to manage internal communications alongside your freelancers.
You likely don’t need us to tell you that poor communication can lead to tons of issues, including:
Reduced productivity and project delays: McKinsey reports that improved communication and collaboration can increase workplace productivity by as much as 25%. Without a way for freelancers to collaborate with internal teams (or their assigned point of contact) and vice versa, work won’t get done. Or if it does, there will likely be errors, missing information, etc., which considerably hinders productivity. Similarly, suppose communication isn’t clear, concise, or timely. In that case, it can lead to project delays, mistakes, and misaligned expectations, which can cause projects to fall behind schedule.
Lower morale and higher turnover: Without a transparent communication system, freelancers might feel like they don’t have the support they need to get the job done - this can lower morale and job dissatisfaction and lessen the likelihood of them wanting to collaborate with you on future projects.
The moral of the story? If you don’t have a means of effectively communicating with your freelancers, this needs to change. As we’ve already seen, an FMS with in-built chat functionality as well as a place where project participants can comment in real-time is one such way to implement an effective means of communication.
4. Automate Repetitive Tasks
From onboarding to invoicing and everything in between, when you’re working at scale, certain aspects of freelance management are repetitive and time-consuming.
As Zapier points out, most workers spend less than three hours per day on meaningful tasks. The bulk of their work ends up on data entry. Where freelance management is concerned, this might be emailing back and forth to get the right documentation, micromanaging projects, or manually sifting through invoices. When these repetitive tasks are combined with everything else HR managers need to achieve, it’s a fast track to burnout.
Instead, with FMSs such as Bubty, businesses can automate and streamline reoccurring tasks like paying invoices, sending deadline notifications, requesting invoices, etc.
Are You Ready to Manage Your Freelancers More Effectively?
When you’re new to freelancer management, it can often feel like an overwhelming task. However, once you have the right system in place, you’ll be able to fully benefit from all the perks freelancers have to offer. For instance:
Innovation: Freelancers can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to a business, helping to drive innovation and creativity.
Access to a global talent pool: With the rise of remote work, businesses can now access a global talent pool of freelancers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise.
Flexibility: Access talent as and when needed to keep your overheads low. Find professionals that bring a fresh and diverse perspective to a new project, and get rolling within just a few days.
With the gig economy on the rise and more and more professionals seeking the flexibility of remote work, it’s increasingly crucial that you prepare to embrace freelancers. However, with the right technology, this shift is nothing to fear. Tools like Bubty give businesses all the features they need to easily invite, onboard, and manage freelancers through every project stage.