Working from home can be both freedom of expression feeling, or a complete chaotic experience if left to your own devices. More often than not, being a remote worker has its perks and can be extremely productive in our current economic climate. Businesses–large and small–are turning to remote work to cut down on overall in-house costs, to give a little leeway to the freelancer’s lifestyle, and promote global involvement with workers overseas.
As freelancers find themselves in new territory, it is essential for the team manager to dial everyone in and be on the same page with the overall mission statement of the business and how operational tactics come into play. Setting your freelancers up for success requires thoughtful planning, active listening, and an appreciation of the diversity within your workforce.
A remote team needs guidance and a day-to-day or weekly check-in with the project managers and whoever else is involved in moving brand awareness forward. Scheduling becomes vital for a freelance remote team, as different time zones can be challenging for everyone on board.
When you have an in-house agency or organization teamed up with collaborators and personnel who are ready to come to visit your office or conference room at the drop of a hat, it takes a major adjustment for the entire operation to begin a remote working environment. So what do you do when freelancers are necessary to excel the business and a variety of languages and locations come into play?
You manage your team. Plain and simple. It requires dedication, perseverance, and patience, yet you might be amazed at the outcome once all levels are in place.
Before you take the plunge into the freelancing market, consider the following:
Organize Your Plan
To effectively manage a freelance remote team you have to create an actionable plan so every new hire understands their role and you grasp their time zone differences. Having calendars, sales funnels, customer FAQ’s, and an editorial staff that’s ready to strategize and jump in when needed is the key to your success.
The virtual business process has to follow streamlined patterns in order to be effective. Managers in charge of the daily organization also have to be flexible when it comes to remote workers who are unable to meet deadlines due to one reason or another. Expert communication is highly recommended during the initial phase, as being straightforward with team member goals is the means to the end.
Team managers need to write every bulleted point down, insist the team members follow the rules, and provide feedback along the way. During the planning phase of your remote team, it’s crucial to receive both positive and negative responses to the way business is being operated, which provides every team member a chance to have a voice, no matter their location.
Hire a Quality Team
When you comb through one resume after another, it’s essential to hire carefully and methodically. Every person who applies for a job at your business might not be conducive to remote work, or even have the technological setup at home to produce quality projects, therefore hiring a high-caliber team works to your advantage.
Since every team member will be virtual, building trust is first and foremost. You need to be extremely clear on the type of person you need, whether they’re able to communicate well, they have the proper experience, and the competence to work under virtual supervision.
What’s also key to hiring a quality team are those remote workers who you can have some fun with and enjoy online chatting every once in a while. It doesn’t always have to be all work and no play, as social skills online help to bridge the gap between someone in your immediate time zone or a team member who lives worlds away.
Outline Clear Expectations
Once you’ve onboarded the new freelancing remote workers, outlining goals and mission statements is imperative to get everyone on the same page. Ask your team questions before assigning duties and responsibilities, such as:
- What type of tasks are you best suited for?
- What specific goals do you have for the team member/manager relationship?
- Do you have a preference for how you get assignments accomplished?
- Can you provide feedback on your onboarding process?
- Does the company mission statement align with your goals?
Being as clear as possible with team member expectations allows for more freedom of thought and more trust to be built as well. When you’ve outlined what’s expected, without being overly demanding or micromanaging, listen to the answers of your team and honor their voices accordingly. It can be a beneficial way to solidify the relationship.
Set Reasonable Deadlines through Tracking and Feedback
Every remote freelancer needs deadlines to follow. It’s the only way the managerial system will work efficiently and produce high-quality results for clients. By setting up reasonable deadlines through a tracking and feedback system, this allows the remote worker to chart their course and plan their own action steps.
Creative work takes time. Good work might add even more extra hours. Factor it all into reasonable deadline demands for each freelancer. Some might have multiple projects in the works and need to schedule an allotted time for each, thus a tracking system helps to target any issues within projects before it’s too late.
Setting up a tracking system also gives managers the ability to check-in and see how projects and tasks are going. You can also employ a weekly phone call session to track progress and allow the remote worker to offer feedback. It has to be a two-way street though, as team members want to hear about their progress from management as well.
Empathy Goes a Long Way
Making your team feel valued and supported is not for the weak at heart. Management must communicate the good and the bad in such a way as to empower remote workers versus demean their performances. You want the good freelancers to stay on board, which is why being an inspirational manager is the epitome of business success.
Even if being virtual is met with challenges from time to time, bring the remote worker in on your vision. Show each team member where they can learn and grow. Educating freelancers about the ins and outs of how the business operates and why their participation is vital to a triumphant outcome.
The rewards far outweigh the obstacles for the remote worker/manager relationship.
Be the Change You Wish to See
As a manager who strives to effectively build a freelancing remote team, be a decent human being who sets the tone for the entire business. If every person sees how regular constructive feedback is given with respect and integrity, the remote worker will feel as though they’ve landed in the perfect work culture to offer their expertise.