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06 Dec 2015

Top 3 tips for working with freelancers

by Melanie Franklin

Reading the special section on the future of work in the Sunday Times today, I was struck by the number of articles highlighting freelancing. I am so used to working with freelancers over the last 20 years in project management that it’s not something I have to adjust to. For other line managers who are used to having more supervisory responsibilities over staff who formally report to them it’s a big adjustment. As project managers we have a lot of guidance to share on how to get the best out of mixed teams of permanent and freelance resources. See below for my top 3 tips.

1. Concentrate on achievement and not presence.

Many contractors/freelancers are paid on a daily rate, so you can lose out if you start trying to manage them according to a standard 7 hour working day plus an hour for lunch. Freelancers are only as good as their last job so have a vested in interest in delivering high quality work so you will either recommend them to others or hire them for more assignments. So manage them according to what they produce, and trust in their ability to self manage their time do they deliver the required quality.

2. Freelancers are specialists so get the most out of their skills.

Mix them up with permanent members of staff and encourage them to share how they do their work. Make it part of their objectives to share new techniques and new ways of thinking. Use their knowledge to investigate the latest technology and apps that help them do their work. Part of the marketability of a freelancer is to stay at the cutting edge of their specialism, so make sure they share what they know.

3. Freelancers have an objective viewpoint.

Use their knowledge of other assignments to challenge your assumptions about your work. They have a more objective view than someone who only has experience of working in your organisation. Make it clear that you want them to ask a lot of ‘why’ questions because getting an insight into their viewpoint can expand your own horizons.

For more information about future trends in project management, join me on 14 December at the AgilePM Practitioner course:

Melanie Franklin
6th December 2015