Remote work success for freelance hires: Strategies every employer needs

Remote work success for freelance hires is achievable and beneficial for both the individual and the hiring organisation. When executed correctly, both parties can excel, but the opposite can lead to negative experiences. We evaluated the evidence, conversed with the community, and delved into various cases. Here’s our comprehensive guide on ensuring successful outcomes, especially when employers onboard freelancers and independent consultants for remote roles.

Have a clear scope and defined outcomes/ deliverables

A huge part of the successful use of independent talent when they are working remotely, is having a well-defined scope and setting out clear deliverables, success criteria and desired outcomes. All relevant internal stakeholders should align on this. It avoids any expectation mismatch, creates a very transparent engagement and allows both parties to track progress. Defining outcomes early on prevents scenarios where independents are pulled in different directions by multiple stakeholders – each with a different view of what the talent is there to deliver.

A differentiated recruitment process

There must be an organised, efficient and professional assessment and selection process which reflects the differences in what it takes for someone to be successful as an on-site permanent employee compared to a remote independent professional. Different skills need to be considered, such as how self-sufficient they are, their project and task management skills, strength and style of communication and ability to build relationships. Too often, clients have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hiring staff, whether onsite, remote, permanent or independent.

Proper onboarding and engagement

Just because an individual doesn’t work from the office doesn’t mean their onboarding and experience should be overlooked! Organisations must create a positive environment to attract top talent and uphold their market reputation. Freelancers and independent consultants communicate amongst themselves, so it’s no surprise that a freelancer’s poor experience can quickly tarnish an organisation’s reputation in various talent circles.

The foundation for ensuring this doesn’t happen lies in establishing clear policies. Different departments such as risk & compliance, HR, and accounts must collaboratively determine how remote independent professionals are sourced, evaluated, contracted, onboarded, compensated, managed, and engaged.

Fostering a sense of inclusion

Establishing a thoroughly planned end-to-end experience can be a distinguishing factor, reducing the time spent on impromptu problem-solving. This approach ensures that independent professionals working remotely don’t feel less valued than permanent or on-site employees.

Companies frequently struggle with understanding data security protocols, providing laptops, conducting essential training, integrating remote independent professionals into internal systems, and sending welcoming communications. While business stakeholders may readily extend offers to remote resources, but the process becomes disorganized when the central teams involved in execution take over.

Strong (project) governance and a clear sponsor

Once companies define the scope and onboard the independent professionals remotely, the next potential point of failure is poor governance. This can appear as a lack of clear ownership and responsibility from a management and oversight standpoint. Assigning a sponsor to ensure the individual delivers according to the scope, receives ample support and engagement, and provides value is crucial.

Invest in the right tools

  • Collaboration platforms: Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Trello can keep everyone in sync
  • Time tracking: Tools such as Toggl can help both parties keep track of hours worked
  • File sharing: Dropbox, Google Drive, or WeTransfer can be used to share documents and files securely
Productivity tools - Project management

Make use of the above mentioned collaborative tools (more tools mentioned here), hold regular check-ins, and maintain open communication to ensure project progress. Address issues promptly, foster honest communication, and adapt management styles for remote independent professionals to succeed.

Streamline payment processes

For smooth transactions, establish clear payment terms upfront, whether choosing hourly rates, project fees, or other methods. Use trustworthy payment methods like PayPal, TransferWise, or direct bank transfers to simplify and speed up this collaboration aspect. Always keep detailed payment records for transparency and accountability.

Encourage continuous learning

Encouraging continuous learning is essential for the success of independents working remotely. Employers should offer training sessions when introducing new tools and give them access to company resources or learning platforms.

This approach not only elevates their skills but also adds value to the projects they handle.

Feedback & reviews

Feedback and reviews are essential for successful remote collaborations. After every project, employers should discuss successes and areas for improvement. Moreover, fostering a two-way feedback system, where both the employer and freelancer share insights, ensures a transparent and effective working relationship.

Create a culture conducive to remote working

To support different types of individuals and working models in the organisation requires the right culture. Remote working, in particular, requires a specific culture for it to be successful for both parties.

  • Disperse decision making needs
  • Share information freely
  • Implement technology to support internal engagement and communication
  • Data security policies need to support information sharing to external parties
  • Training needs to be computer based

To support remote work, we need to eliminate distrust towards remote workers, often stemming from traditional supervision. Emphasise strong communication and digital performance tracking. Decide if remote work applies to all or specific roles, ensuring clarity to avoid perceived unfairness.

Challenges with remote work include feelings of isolation, concerns about career progression, and heightened scrutiny. Companies often grapple with effective management, technological setup, and policy creation for independent professionals working remotely.

Thus, remote work decisions should be part of a wider discussion about evolving employer-talent relationships and the needs of flexible resources.