How To Remotely Communicate With Freelancers?
Before you understand and acquire the skills for communicating remotely with freelancers, you need to accept the common differences between freelancers and employees. As a manager, all of your communication lines should be open, and you should be crystal-clear with expectations, and be approachable during the project.
Remote and contract work are more common than ever, and both managers and freelancers are learning how to handle their challenges. People’s liking for direct communication is a significant challenge faced by both parties. Many times a situation that does not get handled on a Skype or Slack message is not managed at all.
That being said, it is necessary to have tough conversations to make the quality of work better. Yes, it could be discomforting and awkward due to the distance, but it needs to be done. Mentioned below are few tips that will help you ace the remote communication.
1. Do not consider them as your full-time employees
Freelancers work either on a project basis or a monthly basis. When you collaborate with them, you have to respect their independence. Like you, they work with other clients as well, and their time is divided. While engaging with them, one of the primary and most important things you should remember is that they maintain their freedom while working, and they want to keep it that way.
This will form the roots of your work relationship with them, and it will have an impact from communication to meetings to feedback to project briefings.
2. Be transparent with them
Enrooting remote company culture requires managers to be transparent in their communication, and this also makes the tough talks manageable. Be clear with your project briefs, deliverables, timelines, and what is expected out of them. The critical information such as data and the roles of others in the team should be made available to freelancers. Getting access to this information makes them perform well, especially when unsupervised
3. Establish a two-way communication path
For people who work remotely or on a less formal basis with you, it is pivotal that you form a two-way communication path. Not only it keeps the workflow smooth, but it also allows the manager and freelancer to develop a personal relationship and clearly communicate about things. Managers who understand the value of this often engage in phone calls, emails, chats, and video conferencing.
4. Make sure they can approach other team members if need be
During your stint with the freelancer, you might feel like including them in the team, like how you would include an employee. Freelancers are always open to more information about the project. They can be great to collaborate with, but if and when you plan to include them in the project (more than it is necessary), remember that they are still independent professionals.
However, to complete the project, if they need to join forces with another member of the team, they should always feel comfortable doing that.
5. Do not expect them to be always available
It is not mandatory for freelancers to work from 9 to 5 or during your working hours. They have chosen to work independently, and they are known for it. When working with contract workers, you should know and accept the concept of an asynchronous conversation. This can happen when none of you are available online.
You can check this by observing the communication channels that you use to share information. Video or phone calls are great for more significant discussions; emails for more detailed answers and to maintain proof of important communication; and instant messages for small bits of information or quick questions.
When your freelancer is communicating with you asynchronously, you need to acknowledge that they need more information than they otherwise would as there are high chances that both of you would not available online at the same time for essential follow-up questions.
6. Do not depend on daily status reports
You need to make your expectations clear with them in terms of work status reports.
Freelancers work with multiple clients simultaneously, and they focus on projects based on their timelines. If your freelancer has been unresponsive for some time or has not shared an update on the project, you might think that they are not prioritising your project. At the same time, freelancers can feel that you are asking for more than the necessary time.
To avoid situations like this, when the project begins, discuss how you both will communicate and stay in touch, and fix the times when you both will be available to chat. It would help if you were always quick in your responses.
7. Stick to the contract and do not make additional requests
Always get the work done according to the contract and be careful about not asking for extra work that is not mentioned in the contract. You can do this with an employee but never with a freelancer. If you need more deliverables from that project, you can revise the contract, which is agreeable by both parties, or make a second contract for the next phase of the project.
Freelancers do not appreciate it when the number of deliverables is increased during the project. You can have a chat with them, explain why you need extra work, and discuss revising the contract.
8. Listen to what they have to say
Having an informed conversation conveys and earns respect. Always prepare your notes before the call and share the critical information. Do not distribute information in different modes of communication. As a manager, it is also your job is to listen to what they are saying. Make sure they know that they are heard and understood during conversations.
These are some essential tips that will help you have healthy communication with your freelancer. And never forget, always compliment them if a job is done well—the best way to show this by giving them another project.