In May, I celebrated my seven year anniversary as a freelancer. There are now 1.72 million of us in the UK, according to the Telegraph. And a quarter of those working in professional, technical and scientific fields are now ‘iPros’, or independent professionals.
Chances are that if you need specialist skills, increasingly you’ll turn to freelance help rather than recruiting permanent staff. You get the flexibility to buy in expertise only as long as you need it, and you can tap into talent that might not otherwise be available to you.
And yet, while the way organisations access skills is changing, from my own experience and those of other freelancers I talk to, many companies still seem unsure about quite how to deal with their iPros.
So today, on National Freelancers Day, here’s a short guide on how to get the best from your freelancer.
Treat them as part of the team
Managing freelance support is tricky – if they’re only working with you for a limited period, investing time to help them get to know you and your organisation may seem like a waste. But it’s an investment that can really pay off. The more you bring your freelancer into the team, the better they’ll be able to serve you.
Treat your freelancer as a ‘supplier’ and keep them at arm’s length, and you’ll make it hard for them to deliver their best work.
But don’t micro-manage
While ignoring your iPro isn’t a great option, tracking their every move doesn’t work too well either. Freelancers are generally independent self-starters (they won’t last long if they’re not) and won’t take kindly to a client constantly looking over their shoulder. Plus the time they spend keeping you constantly updated is time they could be using to finish the project.
If you’re on a tight deadline or the relationship is new and you’re still building up a level of trust with your freelancer, agree a way that they can keep you updated on progress on a regular basis – a weekly catch up call or a written project update, for example.
Be courteous with their time
Adam Tinworth wrote about the ‘always on’ life of the freelancer, and sometimes juggling family commitments and the demands of different clients can feel like a game of Extreme Twister.
But while the boundaries between work and home life can become distinctly blurry for the self-employed, that doesn’t mean that you should consider your freelancer as ‘on call’.
While most good freelancers will try to work around client schedules as much as possible, remember flexibility cuts both ways.
Say ‘thank you’
Freelancers are people too. A little thanks every now and then goes a long way.
Pay them on time
Freelancers need money for life’s little luxuries. Like food, heating and a roof over their head. You wouldn’t leave your permanent staff waiting three months or more to get paid. Don’t do it to your freelancer.
Thinking of working with freelancers?
For those thinking about using freelancers, PCG has put together a useful guide. Happy National Freelancers Day!
Thoughts? Suggestions? Share them in the comments below!