How to Easily & Efficiently Onboard Freelance Professionals Into Your Team

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Freelance professionals are your secret weapon when it comes to accelerating your business. Hiring consultants that work on contract is the most efficient and cost-effective way to grow and reach your goals faster. You hire the on-demand skills you need, for a set amount of time, and can tap into a larger pool of expertise from anywhere in the world. It seems like a no brainer.

The bottom line is, professional freelancers, give you a competitive advantage. Yet, we understand that if you’re hiring freelancers/consultants for the first time, it can seem daunting.

Well, that’s why we’re here. This article outlines the best practices when it comes to hiring and incorporating freelance professionals into your team. These pointers will ensure they quickly and happily integrate into your organization to maximize productivity.

1. Define your company’s needs

First things first, assess the current skill gaps in your company. What are you missing right now to grow or reach your goals? Get very clear on your needs and what outcomes you’re seeking. If you’re starting a new project, analyze what functions are required and expected to accomplish this project. This analysis will help identify the skills you’ll need from a freelance expert. From there, you can clearly define a job description for this new freelance role.

Defining your project needs, your timelines, and your objectives are vital to finding the freelance expertise you need.

2. Use a trustworthy hiring platform

Now that you know what you need, it’s time to post your job online. You’ll want to use a reputable hiring platform to verify the freelancer’s credentials. You can trust Oomple's freelance professional marketplace to ensure you’re hiring qualified experts. By posting on Oomple, you’ll also have access to a vast network of professionals. Access to a large and trustworthy network will allow you to cast a wide net and find the talent you’re looking for.

3. Hire the right freelancer

As applications and interviews start rolling in, it’s time to choose who you’re going to hire. Make sure they meet your expectations as far as skillset required and cultural fit. You’ll want them to be in line with your company’s mission and vision. Are you hiring an entry-level freelancer or do you need an expert? If it’s a budget debate, decide if experience is what you need for this project. And remember also, qualified freelancers can get the job done more quickly & efficiently, which ultimately saves you money in the long run. You can negotiate and discuss timelines and budgets with various freelancers to help narrow down your selection.

Another important thing to consider, is whether you want an on-site professional (who will be able to work at your office) or if you want a remote professional. This will depend on preference and what's best considering their position. 

4. Adjust your onboarding strategy and share your focus

Since they won’t be working for you permanently, it may seem tempting to cut corners when it comes to onboarding them. And while they may be an expert in their particular field, they’ll still need to understand the ins and outs of your business. Some companies will give their freelancers information only about their tasks at hand. But, you’ll notice that if you don’t openly share your goals and focus with them, results won’t be as strong. Let your freelancers see the big picture, and that way, they can understand your mission and deliver the best outcome.

Tweak your onboarding strategy based on their freelance role while still giving them enough time to adjust and learn. Present to your new hire a company PowerPoint presentation, set a training schedule with a mentor and plan introductory meetings with their team members.

If you’re hiring remote experts, you can find our step-by-step guide to virtually onboarding freelancers here.

5. Use tools to help manage workflows

Remote or not, your team should have access to online project scheduling tools to manage and organize workflow. These tools will be especially helpful for freelancers to plan and execute their projects. They will allow you to all be on the same page for project timelines and understand the steps or team members they may need to leverage -your entire internal and freelance team running like a well-oiled machine.

You’ll also want to add them to the communication tools that you use. Virtual tools allow for easy communication, planning of virtual meetings and project collab. Create relevant channels to keep track of specific topics relevant to your business needs. And also, create some lighter, funnier channels for some team fun and bonding (a funny meme channel is always a winner).

6. Set clear expectations and deadlines

Define the project and your expectations clearly from day one. Make sure you see eye to eye on the scope of the project by having an open conversation with them. Remember, they’re an expert in their field, so chances are they’ll have a better understanding of timelines and details of the project. Have a goal-setting sesh together and discuss desired outcomes. By agreeing on clear guidelines and deadlines, it will make for an overall smoother and more successful experience.  

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Oh, did we mention you should communicate often? I think we’ve stressed this before, but keeping communication lines open is the key to success with freelancers (especially if they’re working remotely). Now, that doesn’t mean you need to check-in five times a day or daily even. Just ensure you schedule meetings (or virtual meetings) to touch base with them weekly. Whether it’s a Monday progress report, or discussing roadblocks and re-aligning goals, staying in the loop will keep your project moving in the right direction.

Communicating is also the opportune time to provide or get feedback. Review your freelancer’s progress to ensure their work meets your standards. Ensure that they have all the tools and support they need to be successful in their role. Also, since your freelancer has an outside perspective, it’s an excellent opportunity to get feedback about some of the things you may have become biased to.

8. Make them feel part of the team

They’re an integral part of the team, so make sure they know it and feel included. Freelancers should feel part of the office camaraderie and have a sense of belonging within your organization. Make an effort to include them in team social activities and team events. If they’re working remotely, schedule a virtual team lunch or game night every once in a while. These small efforts will go a long way to boost morale and productivity as well.