Original Post by Dennis Collins
Freelancers are no longer a minor niche of the workforce. From 2014 to 2015, 700,000 U.S. adults joined the freelance community, which today encompasses nearly 54 million Americans who freelance on a full or part-time basis.
As more professionals venture out on their own, traditional organizations are enlisting freelance support to minimize payroll costs and supplement project teams that demand specialized expertise. A recent Deloitte study found that 51 percent of global business leaders plan to ramp up their dependence on contingent employees over the next few years.
But when workers transition to the freelance lifestyle, they often leave behind the communication and productivity tools that come with it. And though hiring freelancers is a smart way for employers to save resources, they need to ensure that the collaboration between full-time and contract staff is seamless (and secure).
Here are three tips and tools to consider when integrating freelancers into your company’s day-to-day:
Tip 1: Maintain Face-to-Face Relationships
Freelancers need encouragement and support just like any regular employee. Video conferencing platforms offer an efficient way to establish rapport between freelancers and their supervisors or colleagues, making them feel like a key part of the team. And while many freelancers may be accustomed to using consumer Skype or Google Hangouts accounts for business meetings, it’s your job to onboard them to an enterprise video conferencing solution.
A robust video platform offers more flexibility for contractors (i.e., high quality connectivity, even from a mobile device or co-working space) and fewer headaches for your IT department (such as multi-carrier switching).
Tip 2: Consolidate Collaboration
Two of the top growing freelance positions are creative roles: content marketing and user experience design. In most instances, the work these freelancers take on will require multiple iterations and feedback cycles, both with internal and external clients. Workers today have an overwhelming number of options when it comes to collaboration apps.
For managing contractors, a consolidated collaboration suite – such as Cisco Spark – can make everyone’s lives easier. Enterprise-grade collaboration solutions not only help control document sprawl and track version histories, but also ensure that sensitive company IP (be it creative or financial) doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Tip 3: Tap into the Administrative Side of Audio Conferencing
An audio conferencing system is a must-have for setting up project check-ins between freelancers, internal employees and clients, but there’s much more they can do to support you and your contractors. With an audio solution that records meetings, managers can quickly send relevant, archived files that bring freelancers up to speed on important conversations they may have missed. Certain solutions also assign administrative project codes to audio meetings that help managers and accounting teams more accurately track freelancers’ time.
Don’t let haphazard communication and collaboration practices undermine the value of skilled freelancers. With the right technology in place, your organization can work with freelancers the most effective way possible: by treating them as a natural extension of your core team.