Don't make temps feel sidelined: How to manage freelancers at work

Rajeeb Dey
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Hiring a freelancer who doesn’t fit with your culture will undoubtedly lead to disappointment (Source: Getty)

Gig workers, independent consultants, a contingent workforce – whatever you want to call them, the chances are your business will become increasingly reliant on teams that aren’t on your payroll.

There is ongoing debate about how best to categorise, reward, and indeed tax this group of workers, but for the most part, the growth of the professional freelance economy benefits both businesses and the individual.

Companies are able to select teams from a global talent pool, scaling up or down when necessary, and drawing on expertise for specific projects.

Individuals benefit from being their own boss, gaining a broad range of experience across different companies, and they can create a work schedule that fits their lifestyle.

Running a business which relies on freelancers requires a shift in how you manage, communicate and develop your team.

Here are five things to consider when scaling your workforce up with freelance talent.

Get the culture fit right

Many employers will spend much more time hiring a full-time member of staff than a freelancer.

In many ways, that’s the right decision. However, getting the right person, who fits the culture of your business, is vital – whether they’re going to be working for you for three years or three months.

Hiring a freelancer who doesn’t fit will undoubtedly lead to disappointment, and – at worst – can damage your existing teams’ morale.

On the flip side, get it right and a shot of fresh input from someone who really “gets it” can work wonders to boost inspiration.

Invest in freelancers

This can be a sticky subject for some employers – why invest time and resource into someone who isn’t even your employee?

But if you find someone reliable who fits with your culture, you will want to work with them again and again – so why not offer them the opportunity to learn?

You should also invite them to team training days; they will bring a wealth of experience and fresh insights to share with your team, which will make them feel valued and broaden your businesses perspective.

Make them feel included

Irrespective of whether your freelancers are working remotely or in-house, you should make the effort to integrate them with the broader team they will be working with.

Freelancers can quickly feel sidelined or cut out of important communication, especially if they aren’t sat in the same room.

Try nominating someone to be responsible for them, and make sure there is an initial kick-off meeting, which introduces them and their work. This will dispel any confusion or potential animosity.

Communicate regularly

Consider how your team currently communicates and whether this is useful for external members of staff.

Many teams use Slack or Trello to manage projects, which encourage ongoing conversations and project- tracking, even when people are working remotely. This helps freelancers feel engaged and ensures that there’s regular contact.

Get organised

If you’re starting to work with more freelancers, it’s important to make sure you have the right systems in place to brief them and pay them.

This gives the freelancer security, and also makes sure all of their contact details, previous work, and invoices are stored in one place.

There are a number of platforms out there which can help bring all of this together.

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