You may have heard of the “gig economy”, a rising trend in which work is increasingly done by freelancers and contract workers. Fostered by the cloud and improving mobile services, many small businesses benefit on both the giving and the receiving side of this growing trend.
However, if you manage several freelancers across your different projects, you know that it can be almost a full-time job managing the team to ensure high-quality, collaborative work is done. But if your freelance team can work together, with minimal oversight, you’ll find yourself going through that “To Do” list in no time.
So we’re going through three overlooked ways that you can foster better teamwork among your freelancers.
#1. Enforce Office Hours
To promote teamwork, the team needs to be working at the same time, so it’s essential to make set working hours a requirement of the job. While working hours don’t need to be 9 to 5, you and your team need to agree on when everyone will be working. If you’re wary of this approach, take a page from lean manufacturing and begin every “work day” with a 10 minute stand up meeting to go through the day’s work, where the team is in danger of falling behind and what everyone can do to ensure that doesn’t happen. This will help keep projects from going beyond scope and keep the team accountable to work hours.
#2. Have a Common Set of Tools
There’s nothing more frustrating than working on a team where everyone uses different tools. So as the client, have an approved list that everyone must use, whether it’s the Box or Dropbox, Slack or Evernote, sharing a single set of tools among your team, makes it easy for them to work together. But to foster better teamwork among your freelancers, go a step further and create a virtual watercooler like a private Facebook or Whatsapp group where the team can get to know each other outside of the project. Getting everyone in the same place, digitally, will help them develop the relationships that foster teamwork.
#3. Reward Results Not Individuals
Many freelancers or contract workers don’t get a bonus for going above and beyond, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’re literally paying for their time, and nothing in the rules says you can’t incentivize them to complete the work better or faster. But to encourage teamwork, you need to incentivize the results of the project, not individuals. For example, if you have a team building out your new website, have a shared bonus if the project gets the job done early. That way the copywriter can’t get rewarded if the developer is slipping, and they’ll work together to achieve a common goal.
Just because freelancers are temporary members of your team, doesn’t mean they don’t also need clear boundaries and expectations in order to deliver what you need. So if you manage temporary teams, continue thinking of new ways to foster teamwork among them.