For any business owner, the idea of operating a fully-functional workforce under the same roof is undoubtedly an appealing one. After all, that way it’s far easier to maintain standards, reinforce corporate culture and promote teamwork within a contained environment.
But in today’s tough economic times, is this scenario really just a pipe dream? In reality, the demands of clients and stakeholders often far outweigh a business’s actual capacity, forcing them to look beyond the office walls in order to get the job done.
Over the past few years, freelancers have become increasingly sought after by businesses with shrinking turnaround times and dwindling budgets, filling in the gaps in service delivery without incurring unnecessarily exorbitant monthly overheads.
In the US alone, the freelance population has increased by over 1 million over the past year, and it’s estimated that it will account for approximately 40% of the professional populace by 2020 – a telling indicator of both the unsettled business landscape and the emerging drive for increased flexibility within the workforce.
So what’s the problem then? Workers want flexible working arrangements, and businesses are increasingly more comfortable on a pay-as-you-go basis. Surely that’s the perfect formula for a win-win scenario?
Whilst outsourcing has undeniable benefits for both employers and service providers, it can in fact have a catastrophic impact on corporate culture if managed incorrectly. Not only can it end up undermining the efforts of those currently within your employ, but it can also severely unsettle team dynamics if different standards are applied to more temporary members.
So how do you keep your finances flexible whilst at the same time ensuring your corporate culture remains intact? Here are 4 simple ways to seamlessly fit freelancers into your workforce:
FIND THE RIGHT FIT
Any new member of the team, be they freelance or permanent, should be assessed through a similar lense, and brought onboard not only based on their pedigree, but also on their ability to integrate easily into your corporate culture. For instance, if yours is a business highly dependent on teamwork, a highly independent contractor is likely to cause you plentiful headaches. Remember that, whilst a freelancer’s time in your workplace is likely to be shorter than most, a person who goes against your business values can have long-lasting effects on your corporate culture.
INVEST YOUR TIME
How do you expect your freelancer to integrate effortlessly into your corporate culture if you don’t explain what it is? Many business owners make the mistake of leaving freelancers to their own devices, failing to invest time in onboarding given the temporary nature of the arrangement. But if you want your freelancers to enhance rather than corrupt your corporate culture, it’s important that you give them a good understanding of your business’s broader goals, values and objectives, so that they’re able to align their efforts and approach accordingly.
Freelancing can often feel like a lonely profession, largely because a lack of clear communication means output is very rarely given any context. Imagine writing up a report without any understanding of what it’s for? Or undertaking research without any idea of the goals behind it? It can’t be very motivating. So remember that while your freelancer relishes their independence, they also want to feel their work matters – if you want to get the best out of them, it’s vital that you communicate regularly, and help them to feel like they’re part of the team.
APPLY SIMILAR STANDARDS
For permanent employees, it can be extremely frustrating to see different standards and expectations applied to freelancers. After all, why should John in accounts have to don a suit and tie, whilst temporary members of staff can just waltz in in what could easily be mistaken for pyjamas? This kind of double standard can cause enormous discord, particularly in situations where freelancers come into the office, so it’s important to educate your freelancers on the parameters of your corporate culture, and ensure they respect these so as not to unsettle your other employees.