The growing gig economy is giving businesses access to a global pool of highly skilled freelance workers. Benefits aside, virtual teams create a challenge for remote project managers, who must keep everyone on track to meet company goals. Whether you're managing freelance workers for the first time or improving your workflow, here are seven tips to get consistent results from your team.
1. Put in Face Time
Managers often feel disconnected when they only communicate with teammates through indirect messaging, and those misgivings can turn into outright distrust if the project isn't going well. Fortunately, video conferencing tools make it easier to build rapport with freelance workers in live virtual meetings. Schedule regular video calls, conferences and webinars to help teammates get to know each other.
2. Define and Monitor Goals
The bigger the project, the more opportunities for something to go wrong. As a remote project manager, you should make sure workers know how their roles serve the complete project. Explain who you want to reach, the problem you need to solve and the outcomes you want to achieve. Don't just tell workers what to do and leave them to solve problems alone. Ask thorough questions to clarify the scope and objectives, and encourage accountability by setting checkpoints and revising goals as the project progresses.
3. Host a Chat Room
Give freelance workers a way to connect by providing them with a dedicated forum or 24-hour chat room. Having a real-time chat option enables workers to share ideas, advice and feedback while gaining a clear understanding of how other teammates are contributing. As an added benefit, letting workers pool their knowledge lessens the burden on you to constantly be available.
4. Be Transparent
Many company leaders are so afraid of showing weakness or giving away secrets that they withhold information that's necessary for freelance workers to achieve the best results. Transparency ensures your team can see the big picture and approach the project with the same values as the company. If you're worried about information leaks, use nondisclosure agreements to legally protect company data.
5. Agree On a Workflow
Leaving everything open-ended can gradually cause complacency and low engagement in the best teams. Maintain structure by setting up clear workflows with checkpoints and tools for sharing progress, such as productivity apps. You can tailor workflows to suit different personalities and work styles, so you stay in the loop without micromanaging freelance workers.
6. Be Flexible
Keep in mind, many freelance workers choose self-employment to have control over their work routine. If a task isn't time-dependent, resist the urge to control how and when workers get jobs done, as long as they satisfy your guidelines. Respect the unique work styles of remote team members because exerting too much authority can hinder their strengths.
7. Introduce Remote and In-House Workers
Although freelance workers can't gather in the breakroom, you can invite local contractors to company networking and social events. Encourage remote and in-house workers to connect in professional networking sites and bond over shared interests. Consider hosting annual in-person meetups for all long-term workers who are able to travel to headquarters.
Freelance workers vary in skills and professionalism, and not every person is a good fit. Build a cohesive team by fostering their strengths and clarifying how you define success.
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