The makeup of typical workplace teams is drastically changing as time goes on. Organizations around the world are hiring more freelance workers to complement their full-time in-house employees. The addition of freelance workers brings in a suite of benefits, but it also comes with its own set of issues as well. Because freelance workers often are not physically in the office as part of the team, it can be challenging to keep up the ever-important team “feel.” When employees feel like they are part of a team, they are more engaged, work more efficiently, and have more job satisfaction. Here are a few tips on how to create a team vibe when you work with a remote freelance team.
Keep Organizational Culture in Mind When Hiring Employees
Creating a team environment starts when you hire your team. When your business is going through the hiring process, keep in mind the traits you are looking for to build your team. When interviewing your potential freelance workers, don’t strictly look at work experience and applicable skills. Be sure to gauge soft skills such as how well the candidate works in a team environment. Teamwork is part of the organizational culture of your company, and not all freelance candidates will be a good fit. Hiring employees with a natural ability to work with a team will help ensure the team vibe is established and maintained in the future.
Spend the Time Integrating Freelancers into the Team
Your freelance workers are not physically in the office, but this does not mean that they don’t need the same integration onto the team as your in-house employees. It may be a little trickier to assimilate a remote worker into the team, but there are things you can do that will pay dividends towards creating a team atmosphere.
- Assign a seasoned mentor to your new freelance workers. The mentor will be able to keep the freelance workers up to speed on what is happening in the office and help ensure all of their questions are answered. Pairing your freelancers with someone already on the team will help them feel like more of a member of the team.
- Check in with your freelancer often. Make sure that they are “in the know” with relevant happenings in the office and at the company.
- Invite your freelance worker to the office for a meeting or to a special team-building event. Having everyone meet face to face is a great way to build a team environment and boost morale. If this is not possible, host a special virtual meeting to give video introductions. Create a bio sheet with a photo to help existing teammates put a face with the name.
Keep Freelancers Involved
As with all teams, communication is the key ingredient for success when working with freelancers. Communication breakdowns can cause mistrust, create inefficiencies, and cost your company big bucks in the long run. Communication with a freelance worker looks different than communication with an in-house employee, but it is just as important. It is crucial for the team that the freelance workers are kept involved at all times. Here are a few example tips to keep freelance workers included as part of the team.
- Make your expectations clear. Provide clear instructions, deadlines, and resources. Your team will function much better if there is no confusion on what is expected of them.
- Clearly communicate to both freelance and in-house employees the role of each person on the team. Your freelancers will benefit in knowing the role of the team as a whole, their personal role, and the role of other team members. The more deliberate you define the roles of your team, the fewer inefficiencies and conflicts your team will have.
- Build a virtual team environment. Set up frequent video meetings and teleconferences with the team. Thanks to today’s technology, it is easier than ever to stay connected. Set up a recurring meeting with all the team members involved. Include a standing agenda to give updates on project work, but also give time for the team members to chat personally and build relationships.
- Set goals that remind the freelance workers who the company is and the direction it is moving. If goals change, be sure to let your freelancers know right away.
Remote teams require more organization and stronger communication than a typical office team where everyone physically sits together. Because freelance workers are becoming so popular, managers need to adapt. While creating a team vibe is more challenging with a remote team, it remains vital to the success of the business. In order to build a team environment and culture, freelance workers need managers to keep them involved, the opportunity to forge personal relationships with their teammates and frequent interaction. By using these tips, you will be able to get the most out of your remote team and further the growth of your company.
Melissa Ricker is a freelance writer who covers career topics for JobHero, a free resource for job seekers that offers sample resumes, career advice and more.