So you’ve decided to begin working with Freelancers? Well, you’re in good company, as the total amount of freelancers and businesses employing them continues to increase. The number of freelancers in the US alone has topped 57 million, and forecast to rise. In fact, it’s never been easier for freelancers to advertise themselves and find gigs online, or for businesses to find the right talent to match their needs.
It’s one thing to find the right freelance talent, however, and another thing to make the most of it. In order to establish an effective working relationship, communication is key. Setting clear expectations, establishing a communication structure, and encouraging open communication are crucial to effectively working with freelancers.
Freelancers are, of course, human just like the rest of us, and shouldn’t be treated as some sort of special breed. But given the nature of freelance work, there are certain guidelines and tips that can help you make sure that both sides are satisfied and on task.
How to Communicate Effectively with Freelancers: What Makes Freelancers Different
While, as mentioned above, freelancers are human just like the rest of us, it’s important to understand the nature of freelance work in order to best understand how to communicate with freelancers.
- Commitment: At the heart of freelancing lies a certain freedom that attracts many people to this line of work. Freelancers generally commit to specific short term projects, or gigs, rather than long-term contracts and engagements. This means that it’s important to quickly establish good report with freelancers, particularly if you want to continue to work with them in the future.
- Used to Minimal Oversight: Given most businesses’ approach of simply hiring freelancers and allowing them to complete their work as they see fit (afterall, they’re the experts, right?), many freelancers are used to working with little oversight or supervisor.
- Gig vs. Commitment: At the heart of freelancing lies a certain freedom that attracts many people to this line of work. Freelancers generally commit to specific short term projects, or gigs, rather than long-term contracts and engagements. This means that it’s important to quickly establish good report with freelancers, particularly if you want to continue to work with them in the future.
- Experts in Their Fields: Generally speaking, freelancers offer a specific set of skills that they bring to their work, often specializing in a certain area. This means that they likely have unique insights in the field you are hiring them for, beit marketing, programming, accounting, etc. This also means that they are potentially used to being listened to and not questioned, due to their expertise.
How to Communication with Freelancers
After reviewing what sets freelancers apart from other employees, we arrive at the heart of the matter: how can you most efficiently communication with freelancers? While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to any type of communicat, below are some general guidelines that can put you on the right path:
- Set clear communication expectations: The majority of miscommunication in the workplace comes from the simple fact that both sides have a different understanding when it comes to communication expectations. By taking the time to set mutual expectations around how and when you’ll communicate, you’ll be well positioned.
- Give ways to contact you: If the freelancer has questions, how should they contact you? Email, phone, messenger?
- Determine how often you should get updated: How frequently should the freelancer reach out to share updates?
- Define communication channels: Will the freelancer need to communicate with other team members at your business, and if so, how frequently?
These are just few of the questions that can help you determine what the best expectations are for both sides.
- Choose the right communication system: Will you rely only on email, or will you employ one of the many chat apps available for team communication? Choosing the right mode of communication is key to efficiency. The right choice will encourage open communication between you and your freelancer, the wrong choice could come up unnecessary.
- Create clear goals and milestones: In order to be successful, freelancers need to have a clear expectation around what exactly they are trying to accomplish. This will not only help them do their job more efficiently, but will ensure that at the end of the day the freelancer is fulfilling the vision that you set for them.
- Open for ideas: Of course, given their expertise, the freelancer might have some of their own thoughts on how the final product should look. Remain open to such ideas, but remember that at the end of the day you need to be the one to make the final decision.
- Communicate frequently, but not too frequently: Open lines of communication are great, but communicating too frequently can be interpreted as micromanagement. If the freelancer feels that you are constantly breathing down their neck they might feel that you don’t trust them and doubt their competence.
- Listen, listen, listen: As with any communication, it’s a two way process. It’s not only about telling the freelancer what to do and by when, but also listening to their own insights and thoughts on the project. Keeping yourself open and actively listening will ensure that freelancers feel appreciated and valued.
As mentioned above, freelancers bring unique experience and skills to any project, which after all is why you’re hiring them. That’s why it’s important to keep yourself open to what freelancers have to say, they may be able to notice something that you overlooked.
Working with freelancers can be a rewarding experience. The unique flexibility, cost savings and experience that they can bring to your team are not to be underestimated. In order to ensure that this type of collaboration is mutually beneficial, however, it’s crucial to create the right conditions for efficient communication.
Setting clear expectations and goals, choosing the right communication tool, and practicing active listening are the best ways to guarantee that you and your freelancers will build a positive professional relationship. How to Communicate Effectively with Freelancers, in short, is the best way to guarantee a successful outcome to any collaboration with freelancers.