The ever-evolving business landscape gives thousands of digital-first startups the tools to manage asynchronous teams, speeding up growth and opportunities to scale.
The combination of the rise in those turning to freelance work to make money and the remote communication tools that facilitate team productivity is playing a vital role in the success of many startups. Remote working, once seen as a luxury, is now something team leaders feel more comfortable within a post-COVID-19 world.
Having freelance remote workers as part of your setup doesn’t immediately ensure you will manage successful teams. Startup founders must navigate the challenges of collaborating remotely to ensure smooth operations and efficient team dynamics.
This blog provides practical tips and strategies for founders to collaborate effectively with their freelance teams. Doing so gives you the best chance of creating successful products and services for your end clients.
Understand the unique nature of freelance teams
If you are used to being able to walk down the hall and request assistance from employees in an office-based environment, getting used to managing remote employees like freelancers requires patience and persistence.
Remote work dynamics require clear communication
Collaborating remotely brings its own set of challenges. Geographical distance and limited face-to-face interaction necessitate strong communication skills, as everything is done entirely in the virtual space. Founders must understand the best methods for extracting productivity and adapt their approaches accordingly.
Building trust and establishing rapport with freelancers in the online space
Building trust is crucial for effective collaboration. Founders should focus on establishing open lines of communication, fostering transparency, and actively engaging with their freelance teams to cultivate a sense of trust and rapport.
The best way to promote mutual respect and enhance employee engagement from the outset is to make it part of your onboarding strategy.
Set clear expectations and goals
Freelancers are superb team members when they know what they are doing, how long they have to do it, and the expected benchmark. If you fail to offer guidance in your scope of work, expect a result that won’t meet your expectations.
Defining project scope, deliverables, and deadlines
Clear communication starts with defining the project’s scope, deliverables, and deadlines. By providing a comprehensive overview, founders ensure freelancers understand the project’s objectives, enabling them to work towards a common goal.
Establishing communication channels and response times
Choosing the proper communication channels is essential for seamless remote collaboration.
Utilizing popular digital communication tools allows teams to connect, share information, and stay updated. Additionally, these tools are capable of automating workflow.
Moreover, setting expectations for response times promotes timely and efficient communication.
Outlining performance metrics and quality standards
To maintain quality and accountability, founders should define performance metrics and quality standards. By setting measurable goals and establishing quality benchmarks, founders enable freelancers to monitor their progress and align their work with the desired outcomes.
Establish effective communication routines
Remote teams are boundaryless. They can work remotely from anywhere, giving you flexibility and, potentially, round-the-clock productivity. However, this doesn’t mean that the concept of ‘routine’ should be tossed out the window.
Here are some strategies for getting all your freelancers working remotely on the same page.
Regular check-ins and status updates in the online environment
Regular check-ins and status updates help keep everyone aligned and informed. Founders should schedule meetings to discuss progress, address challenges, and provide feedback.
Additionally, monitoring, using your chosen project management tools, allows real-time updates and visibility into individual and team progress.
Conducting virtual meetings and video conferences
Virtual meetings and video conferences are essential for effective freelancer collaboration.
It isn’t necessary to meet daily, but semi-regular interactions allow for face-to-face communication, which fosters personal connections and ensures clarity in discussions.
Choose the best communication tools
Over the last ten years, dozens of digital technology tools have been developed to help business owners and fellow employees communicate effectively. While some of the tried and true cloud-based applications such as Google Drive are still essential, many other remote communication tools are now becoming a mainstay of almost every digital-first company, helping to connect team members no matter where they live in the world.
Online messaging and collaboration tools
The following project management tools are excellent for assigning tasks, sharing files, and instant messaging, allowing you and your freelancers to stay connected.
There are many other remote communication tools than the following list, so if you find one that works for you and team members feel like they are getting things done great job!
A great tool for remote teams, offering real-time messaging, file sharing, and integration with other productivity tools. It provides a centralized platform for remote-friendly and seamless communication and collaboration.
A versatile collaborative communication tool that facilitates task management, progress tracking, and team collaboration. It allows founders and freelancers to streamline communication and keep projects organized.
If a comprehensive collaboration platform that combines task management, communication, and documentation is what you are after, then ClickUp fits the bill perfectly. Its customizable features cater to the unique needs of remote teams.
With a visual and intuitive interface, this application makes it easy to manage projects, assign tasks, and track progress. Many remote teams communicate using Trello, as its flexibility and simplicity make it a popular choice for streamlining workflow.
A powerful project management tool that incorporates video conferencing and helps streamline workflows, track tasks, and manage deadlines. It promotes transparency and collaboration, making it an ideal tool for remote teams.
Video communication tools for remote teams
Of course, doing everything through written documentation and file sharing sometimes won’t cut the mustard. Sometimes, you need face-to-face to convey your thoughts more succinctly and effectively. Here are some great options if video conferencing is a work process you want to employ.
This great application offers screen recording, screenshot annotation, screen sharing, and GIF creation features. It simplifies communication by allowing founders and freelancers to visually explain concepts and share information via video calls.
Bursting onto the scene as a COVID-19 lifesaver, Zoom is a widely used video conferencing platform that provides high-quality audio and video communication. It enables virtual face-to-face interactions, facilitating meetings, presentations, and brainstorming sessions.
Especially handy if you manage a remote team based worldwide, Loom is a video messaging tool allowing founders and freelancers to record and share quick videos. It enhances communication by providing visual context and enables asynchronous communication.
Be mindful of cultural and language differences
Don’t think that just because you won’t meet your freelance or team member in person, it isn’t possible to offend or hurt people with your words and actions. All remote team members must be treated with respect at all times, as you would if you were working in the same room in an office.
Be sensitive to diverse cultural backgrounds in the online space
Freelance teams are often composed of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Founders should be mindful of cultural differences and foster an inclusive environment that respects and appreciates diverse perspectives.
Overcome language barriers with clarity
Language barriers can hinder effective communication in a remote team. Founders should ensure that communication is clear, concise, and easily understandable.
Simplifying complex ideas, avoiding jargon, and utilizing visual aids can help overcome language barriers and promote effective collaboration.
Encourage open dialogue and address misunderstandings promptly
Promoting open dialogue and encouraging team members to ask questions and seek clarification is essential in any working environment. In the virtual world, addressing misunderstandings in a timely fashion minimizes the risk of miscommunication and allows for effective problem-solving.
If left unchecked, you may see bottlenecks in the work completion process. Keep asking questions and elicit responses so everyone is on the same page.
Provide clear and constructive feedback
If there is one thing that can wreck a potentially fantastic relationship with freelance team members, it is not adequately following up on finished work with comments and suggestions.
Make time for feedback sessions, as it will improve the outcome of any further projects you do together.
Remember, freelancers, live and die on the quality of their portfolio. It is in their best interests to produce high-quality content they can impress clients with further down the line. Without constructive feedback, they may feel like they are not moving forward professionally and disengage from your project.
Founders should provide regular feedback, highlight strengths, address areas for improvement, and recognize achievements. Timely feedback enables freelancers to make necessary adjustments and enhance their work.
Acknowledging freelancers’ contributions fosters a sense of belonging and motivation. Publicly recognizing achievements, milestones, and valuable contributions through online platforms or team-wide announcements helps boost morale and creates a positive team culture.
Foster collaboration and team spirit
Remote team collaboration brings out the best in everyone. Some startups take on freelancers for long-term engagements, so recognizing their role in growing your company culture by involving them in non-work-related tasks can be an excellent way to thank you.
Encourage a sense of belonging and teamwork
Building a sense of belonging and teamwork with your freelancers is paramount for effective collaboration. Founders should encourage team bonding activities, virtual social gatherings, and initiatives that foster a shared purpose and camaraderie.
Promote open communication channels
Open communication channels are vital for generating innovative ideas and promoting a culture of collaboration. Founders should create opportunities for team members to share ideas, provide input, and engage in constructive discussions.
Regular virtual brainstorming sessions or designated communication channels encourage creativity and promote collaboration.
Resolve conflicts and issues swiftly
Communication breakdowns can occur in remote work environments due to various factors, some of which will be entirely out of your control. Founders should proactively identify and address issues promptly to prevent misunderstandings from escalating.
Encouraging open communication and creating a safe space for discussing concerns helps resolve conflicts effectively.
Utilize conflict resolution techniques
Conflict resolution techniques, such as active listening, empathy, and compromise, are essential for resolving conflicts within remote teams. Generally the bastion of face-to-face communication, managers are rapidly upskilling to build relationships in the virtual space.
Founders should promote a respectful communication culture and guide new employees on conflict resolution strategies to ensure a harmonious and productive remote work environment.
Quickly Hire: Advice and guidance for startups with freelance workers
The team at Quickly Hire has years of experience working with agencies, startups, and small businesses to provide them with outsourced workers that help drive growth and scale rapidly.
All freelancers in our network have extensive experience using various remote communication tools and can adapt their work processes to meet the specific needs of your business.
Additionally, almost all have an innate understanding of the pain points startup founders face running a new business. They are vetted for their communication skills and ability to quickly, efficiently, and expertly complete tasks.
Embracing the benefits of remote work and prioritizing online communication skills are vital to building thriving businesses in the modern era. With a thoughtful and strategic approach to remote team collaboration, founders can navigate the complexities of the remote work culture and create a strong foundation for their freelance teams’ success.
We are committed to providing ongoing advice and assisting your startup with the labor you need to be successful. If you are considering bringing a dedicated freelancer into your remote team, reach out to us today!