How do I effectively manage my outsourced staff?

28th June 2016 Business 168
How do I effectively manage my outsourced staff?

This is a question we often hear from our clients, especially now outsourcing is becoming a popular option for small businesses in Essex. Outsourcing your staff gives you the resources to grow and develop your business, without having to employ a team of office based employees or deal with additional overheads that come with them.

Effective outsourcing is an invaluable way to bring extra skill sets to your team, which in turn gives your more services to offer to your clients.  Having remote workers on board may seem like a hassle-free way of working, but it is important that you always remember to look after them, just as you would any other employees.

There are many thousands of freelancers working across a wide and diverse range of specialisms throughout the UK, so finding one that suits your business shouldn’t be too hard.  Once you have found the perfect one for your business, keep them enfranchised so they continue to provide first class work for you, and help you to grow your business.

Communication is key!

When you have staff working in an office it’s easy to talk to them across the desk, hold morning meetings and keep an eye on their progress throughout the day.  When your freelancer is based somewhere else however, communication becomes a little harder if you don't manage it efficiently.

In the first instance, make sure your brief is precise and spot on.  Nothing is worse than receiving back work that does not fit the bill as the requirements were not mentioned or lost in communication.  Speak to them, explain fully what you need and back this up in email format.  Whether you use a standard form, meet with them face to face, or set up an online resource that allows both sides to share information, make sure you are making your needs absolutely clear from day one. You can also use Skye to speak to them directly. The sooner you and your freelancers are working in sync, the sooner you will have a seamless work creation process in full swing. With this in mind, nobody likes work that is received too late, so remember to make them aware of any potential deadlines.

Create a brand guide with checklists

Depending on the nature of the work you want to outsource, you may need to ensure that your freelancers are producing work that fits the tone, style and ethos of your business.  Even if you are not outsourcing creative work, you still need to ensure that your freelancers know exactly how their work must be completed. Remember - your branding is key no matter whether your use in-house staff or freelancers.

Consider using a style guide that lays out everything from corporate colours for designers, your brand voice for creative content, and offer them examples of what you do and don’t want. Provide them with a checklist to enable them to have access to the thought process you go through, so you can ensure that they do the same. If you and your outsourced staff are well aligned, you will both be on the same page from the outset.

Organise their workload as much as you can.

Of course, a freelancer will no doubt have other clients that they work alongside or for, and you won't be able to tell them how to manage those projects.  But when it comes to the work you need from your freelancer, help to keep on top of things be creating processes that manage expectations of time.  Documents to organise assignments, invoices, pricing models, and upcoming projects that you need help with should have definite timescales attached to them, and you should make your freelancer aware of these from the outset.  In turn, your outsourced worker should be able to tell you what they can or can't commit to and provide you with a definite timeframe within which they can complete the work you need.

With a solid infrastructure in place, you'll save both you and your freelancers a ton of time by knowing the length and delivery time of the estimated workload.

Many employers chose to use a robust content management software that can help you manage your calendar, workflows, and freelancers. Sharing this information will make them feel like part of the team and help everyone stay on the same wavelength. There are many various online applications that can help you with this including Freedcamp, Evernote, Basecamp and many more. By simply inviting people to join via email, you can add tasks, note down completed tasks and liaise as a team from anywhere in the world.  Technology finally brings the out of office workforce together all in one place.

Finally, don't forget to make them feel loved

It’s very easy to build great relationships with people in your office, but it can be just as easy to forget about your freelancers.  Because you don't see them everyday, or spend time chatting with them about they lives away from work, it is harder to get to know them on a more personal level.  Of course, they may not want this kind of interaction, and may be happy enough to provide you with the work required and submit an invoice as and when.  But if you can make the effort to include them in team briefings, social events, new product launches and any changes in internal processes, you may find your relationship with your freelancers strengthens.   Make sure you value their work, and never play them off against each other.  Don’t forget, that they can also choose not to work with you, so if you find someone that perfectly compliments your business, be sure to keep them onside at all times.

Most freelancers began work as employees of a company that may be just like yours.  Over time, people chose to change their career structure to fit in with the demands of their own lives.  Some may freelance to work around other commitments, whilst others may be seeking the financial benefits of being able to work for more than one client at a time.  Whatever the reasons, a good freelancer is an invaluable member of your team.

To find out more ways to grow your small business in Essex, read our 18 Steps To Business Success or callus today on   to find out about the services we offer to budding entrepreneurs.

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