Managing and maintaining relationships is one of the most stressful and time-consuming things managers and employees face in the modern world of work. We’re constantly trying to maintain relationships with our colleagues, suppliers, customers, and many other stakeholders in our teams and company. Usually, we maintain those relationships with these stakeholders because we want to retain them for different purposes. However, there is a group of people that companies often forget to build and maintain good relationships with — freelancers.
When do companies use freelancers? Very simple, when a company outsources a project, a process, or a task, they usually look for freelancers to work with. Nowadays, freelancers can be found anywhere in the world, and thanks to the global pandemic we are seeing a significant rise in people who pursue a new, remote and flexible way of working. Naturally, this is also leading to an increase in companies that are outsourcing some of their work to external resources. With this shift happening and all signs indicating that this new way of working is here to stay, it is absolutely crucial that companies and teams learn how to effectively manage these resources and build a healthy, sustainable, and positive ecosystem.
The current trends in the world of freelancing
The number of freelancers in the world is growing
Did you know that the number of freelancers globally is expected to rise to 78 million workers in 2023? (Velocity Global) Yes, you read that correctly — 78 million people will be offering their services as freelancers to companies around the globe. We can’t beat around the bush here; the global pandemic changed the way people want to work. The pandemic triggered a higher demand for a flexible workforce and it encouraged many people to move towards freelance work. Besides the rise in the number of workers, the freelance market is also experiencing an increase in hourly rates. Research done by Payoneer showed that the average hourly rate in 2022 is $28. This is an increase of $7 in comparison to 2020 where the average hourly rate was $21 (Payoneer).
Important factors influencing this shift
There are different reasons motivating people to do freelance work and it is usually not a financial motive since the work they do is not always for a primary income. Statista researched to see which factors are important to freelancers to keep doing this type of work. They came to the conclusion that a work-life balance and flexible working times are the top motivators for people pursuing a career in freelancing (Statista).
The downside of being a freelancer
Working for oneself is not all sunshine and roses — In the same study done by Statista, it is mentioned that 51% of freelancers experience a form of wage theft at least once in their career (Statista). On the contrary, extended research done by the Independent Economy Council showed that 74% of freelancers are not getting paid on time, with as many as 16% of the workers not getting paid for two months or longer after the delivery of the work. Many freelancers mentioned that experiencing late payouts and being ghosted are signs that this community is still undervalued and disrespected (Independent Economy Council).
4 tips and tricks to maintain the relationship with freelancers
Let’s look at some simple things that teams and managers can do to maintain a healthy relationship with freelancers and external resources.
- Effective communication and briefs
- Clear expectations and goals
- Accessibility to resources
- Give and receive feedback
Tip 1: Effective communication and briefs
Communication is key! Communication between the company and freelancers is important as it helps to avoid misunderstandings between the two parties. Miscommunication is often the primary reason why projects fail or lead to unsatisfactory results.
How can you provide better and clear communication with your freelancer? Organise recurring meetings where you can align expectations and goals, reflect on the status of a project or give feedback on the milestones and deliverables. Face-to-face time is not mandatory but the primary reason companies are unhappy with results from freelance marketplaces is that the platforms do not allow the parties to have a call. I simple form-filled brief is only going to leave you wanting more and getting “I did what you asked in the brief” as a response.
When using an outsource platform or freelance marketplace to source your freelancer, make sure that you use a platform that actually allows you to speak to the candidate via voice-, or video call.
Tip 2: Set expectations and goals
Avoiding miscommunication leads us to the next tip; set clear expectations, goals, and milestones for your project. Why is this so important? Setting goals will allow both parties to be on the same page, especially for freelancers that work remotely and pick up a brief with the only context being what is provided.
Tip 3: Accessibility to resources
Remember: freelancers are not your permanent employees and they do not have access to everything your team does. You usually work with freelancers to help you out with projects or tasks that you outsourced to them. This also means that freelancers don’t know the way of working at your company. Make sure they have access to certain resources that will help them along the way while working on the project. This is your responsibility, and not theirs. Furthermore, be open to answering their questions whenever they have them – the more you provide, the better they can do their job, and the happier both of you will be at the end.
Before the project kicks off, make a point of discussion about how and when it is best for the freelancer to reach out in case he/she might need something from you.
Tip 4: Give and receive feedback
Whenever possible, give constructive feedback to your freelancers when they hand in a project or any other deliverable. When you give feedback, you are also letting them know what they need to work on, but at the same time, you are also showing that you appreciate their work. Nevertheless, it is also important for you as a company to receive feedback from your freelancer. There is always something that you can improve for your next collaboration with a new or even the same freelancer.
Wrapping it up
The global freelance community feels that there is a lack of respect toward them and it is up to all of us to make sure that we build a healthy and sustainable way forward. If you are outsourcing work at your company, make a point of it to make it the best possible experience for both your team and the external resource. This way you will also increase your chances of receiving value for your money.
At blackbear we are on a mission to help teams and professionals work together seamlessly on projects, leaving all parties as satisfied as possible. Our team will help you manage the project and relationship while setting clear objectives and milestones. Book a call today to see how we can help you get work done!