Companies are at a crossroads. Hiring freezes, increased workloads and reduced headcount makes for tough times and long hours. And that is just for established company, think about the really hard days in a startup as well and working starts to feel a little less than ideal for a sane life.
In these circumstances it is highly likely that some work gets delayed (or even forgotten) and quality can even suffer. That means that customers are not getting what they were promised and that is compounding the problems that exist. For companies to be competitive and still deliver what is needed they need to think differently about getting work done. This means opening themselves up to the idea of hybrid teams where full-time and freelance resources come together to deliver great things. I call this 'flexsourcing.'
'Flexsourcing' is the idea that there is a core team delivering business-critical work and there is a pool of external resources that can be plugged in as and when required. There are no retained external resources in this model (this is why it is different from an agency-of-record or outsourcing relationship). Thanks to new online resourcing platforms for collaboration and connection, like Freelancer.com you can search for people to help across hundreds of skills.
It's great to think differently about getting work done but how do you even start planning what is needed to bring freelancers into your tight-knit team when you need them most?
This is the challenging first step that you, and your organization, needs to take. Think differently about what you need and let go of previous misconceptions about resourcing and quality. It's bold to think that the best people in the world are right on your doorstep. Sure, there are a couple (or maybe a handful if you are really lucky) however do you realize that the world is full of very talented and hardworking people that can really understand what your business needs (with a little education). It's time for companies and their executive management to take a deep breath and have some faith in the new collaborative economy and the worldwide talent pool.
So, how to approach this? Things are only slightly different from when you are selecting a local team member. Follow these four steps to getting an amazing freelancer, or freelance team, on-board:
1. Plan strategically
Oftentimes people still jump in because the excitement and urgency seem to force them to. It's time to stop and think seriously about the goal, objectives and strategies before deciding on the course of action. It is all too easy to waste time and money. What is great about a the online collaborative model is that you can test two or three great ideas quickly and (relatively) cheaply. Maybe three deliverables can even be mashed up into one super-deliverable. We hear stories like that all of the time.
2. Think outside normal working practices
You are no longer confined to your own thoughts and even realm of work. You can run free with your thoughts (as long as you are on plan). Variety is the spice of life. Even perspectives from outside your city, state and even country can bring a fresh new angle on design, writing , or whatever you are doing. These are two HUGE supporting reasons for reaching out to external freelancers.
3. Choose wisely
Select an online resource wisely. Before selecting do chat to 3 or 4 freelancers to get a sense of what they think of your needs and what they can bring. Get them to show you examples of their work and trust your gut. Also, make sure that they are aligned with the company philosophy and expectations.
4. Trust in the remote, collaborative process
If your freelancer drops offline then they are likely working on what you have set them to do. Don't chase them up too often. Treat it like a project. Set some milestones up (like any well-planned project), have regular check-ins, discuss the process of delivery and see examples of the work.
Utilizing a flexible model for getting work done with teams located in multiple places will soon the norm and, with some great planning, you and your organization can deliver what you real need when you really need it.