Increasing numbers of startup founders worldwide are turning to freelancers to supplement their teams and stay competitive. With numerous benefits, freelancers offer enhanced flexibility and agility regarding resource allocation, access to specialized expertise, and fresh perspectives that full-time hires need to have.
While all of these benefits are great, what is rarely discussed is how introducing freelancers into your team affects the culture of your business. Recent research has shown that companies with excellent work culture often have freelancers and full-time employees operating in a remote work environment.
Of course, this isn’t to say that utilizing a remote workforce alongside permanent employees isn’t challenging. Founders must have clear goals starting at the hiring process and beyond to maintain a great workplace culture.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of freelancers on your startup’s company culture, both the positives and the challenges. We’ll also provide tips and strategies for overcoming these challenges and fostering a positive and productive team culture that includes freelancers and full-time employees.
Positive Impact of Freelancers on Company Culture
An organization’s culture largely depends on its ability to produce great work in a rewarding environment for its staff. Employees feel valued when they have a strong leadership team and workmates who push them to achieve great things.
Often freelancers bring various new skills and experiences that positively impact workplace productivity and enhance company culture.
Increased flexibility and agility
One of the key benefits of working with freelancers is their flexibility and agility. Freelancers can be brought on board quickly to respond to changing business needs or to fill skill gaps in your team. This allows your startup to remain nimble and responsive to market changes without massive overheads.
If a startup is stuck on a specific project, it may choose to bring in an independent contractor to smooth the process. Of course, this sea change can brighten the mood considerably because when a business thrives, so does employee morale.
Access to a broader pool of talent and specialized expertise
By working with freelancers, your startup gains access to knowledge and skills that may not be available otherwise. This can help your team to innovate and develop new products and services and to stay ahead of the competition.
You may like to consider the professional development opportunities related to onboarding remote team members. Skill sharing is the best way to level up all of your staff.
Opportunities for innovation
Freelancers can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to your team, which can be valuable in developing innovative solutions and driving growth. They can also offer insights into new markets or industries or provide a different viewpoint on existing problems or challenges.
Often, ‘group think’ can take hold in a company, stifling the opportunity for out-of-the-box thinking. By bringing in a new team member, you can figure out new, creative ways of solving problems.
Challenges of maintaining company culture with freelancers
While there are many benefits to working with freelancers, there are also several challenges when it comes to maintaining a cohesive in-house and remote culture.
Lack of connection and commitment to the company’s vision and values
Freelancers may not feel as connected or committed to your startup’s vision and values as full-time employees. This can make it challenging to maintain a consistent company culture and identity for remote employees and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.
Communication and coordination challenges
Communication and coordination can be more difficult when working in a remote environment or with freelancers who may be located in different time zones or who have different work schedules. This can make it challenging to build strong relationships with other employees and ensure everyone works together effectively.
Difficulty in maintaining a consistent culture and identity
With freelancers coming and going, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent company culture and identity. This can be incredibly challenging for startups still developing their culture and identity or for those undergoing rapid growth or change.
Ways to overcome challenges of working with freelancers
Building a remote team culture isn’t as straightforward as onboarding freelancers and setting work. Like any business, trying to ingratiate all new hires and promote company values is essential for success.
While there are challenges, they are not insurmountable. If your company culture is taking a hit from the changes to the work structure, try the following initiatives to get you back on track.
Set clear expectations
Startups should be clear about what they expect from freelancers regarding communication, availability, and work quality. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Even though most freelancers are happy to work autonomously and have flexible schedules doesn’t mean you can just set and forget. Great companies provide all the details to new employees, whether they work remotely or not.
Establish strong lines of communication
Startups should ensure they have clear lines of communication with freelancers, whether through email, messaging apps, or project management tools. This helps prevent miscommunication and ensures that everyone is up to date on project progress.
To ensure your startup has a remote company culture that is the envy of your competitors, have regular virtual events and video calls with your freelancers so that they feel as if they are part of the team.
Create opportunities for collaboration
Startups should look for ways to integrate freelancers into their teams and create opportunities for collaboration. This can foster a strong culture, sense of community, and teamwork, even if freelancers work remotely.
This might be integrated team-building activities, a mentorship program, or working with cross-functional teams on essential projects.
Provide feedback and recognition
If there is one thing remote workers can’t stand, it’s a lack of feedback. Startups should provide regular feedback to freelancers and recognize their contributions to the team. This can help to build trust and motivate freelancers to continue doing great work.
Successful startups with remote teams
Several successful startups with remote teams are recognized for having excellent company culture. For instance, Treehouse, Buffer, and InVision are remote first and are known for their strong remote work culture. These companies have set the benchmark for remote teams by creating a positive work environment that promotes engagement, productivity, and growth.
It’s all about communication
Clear communication is a critical factor contributing to their positive company culture. These companies have implemented effective communication strategies that ensure everyone is on the same page. They use various communication tools such as video conferencing, chat platforms, and project management software to ensure seamless communication among team members.
Additionally, they have set clear guidelines on how to communicate with team members to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Freelancers are built-in mentors
In addition to the above strategies, mentoring can be a powerful way to overcome the challenges of integrating freelancers into a startup’s company culture. By pairing freelancers with full-time employees, startups can facilitate knowledge transfer and help bridge gaps in experience or expertise.
Mentoring can also build trust and rapport between freelancers and full-time employees, which helps foster a more cohesive and collaborative work culture. This kind of mentoring relationship can be mutually beneficial, as full-time employees can learn from the experience of freelancers, while freelancers can gain insights into the startup’s company culture and values.
Leadership and company culture
Leadership is another crucial factor in creating a thriving company culture when working with freelancers. A startup’s leaders must intentionally build a company culture that is inclusive, collaborative, productive, and prioritizes a healthy work-life balance. They need to set clear expectations and lead by example to create a culture where freelancers and employees feel welcome and valued.
Leaders should also prioritize communication and collaboration to help break down silos between freelancers and full-time employees. By creating a culture of openness and transparency, leaders can facilitate meaningful interactions with remote workers that can help to build trust and collaboration.
In addition, leaders should invest in technology and tools that make it easier for freelancers to communicate and collaborate with full-time employees. This helps bridge gaps in experience or expertise and create a more cohesive and productive team.
The Importance of correctly onboarding freelancers
Onboarding is vital in integrating freelancers into your startup’s company culture. It is essential to orient them to your company’s culture and values, introduce them to key team members, and set clear expectations for their roles and responsibilities.
During onboarding, you can introduce them to the company’s mission, vision, and values. You can also share information about the company’s history, goals, and objectives. By doing so, you help them understand how their role fits into the bigger picture and what their contribution means for the company.
Make them feel part of the team
It’s also essential to introduce freelancers to key team members, including managers, supervisors, and other team members they’ll be working with. This can help them build relationships, feel more connected to the team, and better understand how different team members contribute to the company’s success.
Finally, setting clear expectations for their role and responsibilities is crucial. You can discuss their specific tasks, deadlines, goals, company performance expectations, work ethics, and communication protocols.
How you can measure and assess company culture in a remote team
Measuring and assessing company culture in a hybrid team is crucial to maintaining and improving it. Here are some ways you can do it.
Conduct regular employee surveys
Employee surveys are an effective way to measure employee engagement and gather feedback on various aspects of company culture. You can ask questions about satisfaction and well-being, as well as about the company’s values, communication, and collaboration.
Analyze team communication and collaboration patterns
Analyzing each team member’s communication and collaboration patterns can help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your company culture. You can track communication frequency, response times, and the tools and platforms team members use to communicate.
Of course, we are not advocating for spying on your team! However, getting an insight into how team members feel on the channels they communicate is vital.
Assess employee engagement and retention
Employee engagement and retention are key indicators of healthy company culture. You can track employee turnover rates, employee retention rates, and employee satisfaction levels to gain insight into how your company culture impacts your team.
By measuring and assessing company culture, you can identify areas for improvement and take action to strengthen your company culture over time.
Quickly Hire: enhancing your startup with talented freelancers
Working with freelancers can bring many benefits to startups but also presents some challenges. At Quickly Hire, we have an extensive pool of talented developers, copywriters, designers, and virtual assistants that know their roles inside out.
Each freelancer in our network has worked with at least one startup and, generally, many more. Therefore they understand the pressures and organizational problems startup founders face.
We are proud to insert freelancers into startup teams, knowing they will enhance the workplace culture and empower existing teams to create fantastic results.
If you require some fresh ideas and want to build remote team culture, contact us for more information on how we can help.