With freelance workforce forming more than 40% of the US workforce market, many small businesses find it more convenient to outsource one-off or repeating tasks to external professionals rather than hire the employees with proper competencies.

By Ellie Richards

This approach allows you to delegate orders to employees from different time zones or to employ highly skilled professionals who are not available in your area. However, it may also result in a number of adverse consequences such as the failure to obtain quality results or the risks of disclosing valuable internal information. Below you will find 10 practical recommendations on managing your freelance workforce more effectively.

1. Always control your costs

Outsourcing a single task once in a while may seem as insignificant as buying a snack on your way home. This is a critical mistake that may cause substantial losses later on as you lose control over complex expenditures. Strategic records of all your freelance orders will also demonstrate when certain tasks start to repeat over and over again. In this scenario, employing a full-time worker to perform them may become a less costly alternative to outsourcing.

2. Read the reviews

Most online platforms have some sort of rating and review functionality. Study the profiles thoroughly to identify if a prospect failed some orders, behaved unprofessionally or was involved in fraudulent activities previously. You may also want to write a brief message to other employers on the website from the ‘completed orders’ list to get first-hand credentials.

3. Sign NDAs

The disclosure of critical business information or customer data may ruin your business in a single instance. Make sure that your remote employees accept the legal and financial risks and use proper protection solutions such as antivirus software and complex passwords. Also, make it 100% clear that you do not allow them to publish the works performed for you on their resumes published on any websites.

4. Do not be afraid to commit

Extremely good remote workers are hard to find but easy to lose. Successful performers also have busy schedules and give preference to long-term or repeat customers. If you find yourself coming back to specific freelancers time after time with your tasks, you may want to offer a long-term employment contract or a similar arrangement to ensure that they will always be available when you need them the most.

5. Choose bulk offerings

When possible, try to work with freelance agencies rather than individual workers. If your contact suddenly falls ill, you want someone to be in control and replace him or her to keep up with your deadlines.

6. Be highly specific

Providing a generic description of your needs is the shortest path to losing substantial sums in the pay-by-the-hour environment. Make sure that all your tasks are clearly defined, specific, and time-bound. Provide all necessary documentation and instructions to minimise the back-and-forth.

7. Ask for recaps

Ask the remote employee to repeat the requirements and explain them to you in his or her own words. On the one hand, this step eliminates potential misunderstandings. On the other hand, you will know how the freelancer is planning to execute the task, which may be valuable for making minor adjustments to this strategy.

8. Introduce interim appraisals

To support the previous recommendation, allocate a 2-hour deadline for all new freelancers. This will give you the opportunity to see if the previous steps were ineffective and hire another performer for the task. Interim submissions similar to those used in university PhD projects will ensure that the work is under control.

9. Avoid language barriers

While the costs of labour are substantially lower in some developing countries, you may lose time and resources on having to explain complex tasks to the persons who are not native English-speakers. The costs of a failed order caused by mutual misunderstandings as well as the time lost on lengthy explanations may not be worth the economy provided by such outsourcing arrangements.

10. Monitor compliance risks

Knowing the legal provisions regarding freelance workers is a must for SMEs. On the one hand, this will ensure compliance with local legislation regarding your tax obligations and other applicable fees. On the other hand, this will provide an understanding of enforceable legislative provisions in freelancers’ country of residence.

With the current rates of freelance market growth, the majority of small and medium companies should start developing their experience in this sphere in order to remain competitive. The capability to resolve workplace issues on a 24/7 basis during your non-working hours or flexibly adjust your workforce size comes at the cost of multiple risks and challenges. The recommendations provided above will protect you from primary threats in this dimension. However, thoughtful and cautious experimentation may still be the only effective way to find the freelancer management style optimal for your company.

Ellie Richards is an online Marketing Manager for PhD Writing company Original PhD. She specialises in research, content and article writing on various topics, including Education, Marketing, and Technology.

Freelance stock photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock