Bringing one onto your team can create the most relevant match for your project with the maximum efficiency for the business – as well as inviting in new ideas and inspiration.

But freelancers and companies don’t always make a perfect match. Some people might even say they come from different planets. When you decide to bring a freelance talent in to work on your project, what are the ground rules? How do you make this new relationship work? 

How to collaborate with your freelancers ? 3 key tips

1. Be clear on freelance administrative and legal matters

2. Communicate with freelancers regularly and clearly

3. Give freelancers feedback and listen to their advice

How to collaborate with your freelancers ? 3 key tips

Like all happy relationships, a good freelancer–company collaboration is based on strong communication. We asked our freelance community and companies who source freelancers through the Malt platform to share their advice on creating a successful day-to-day working relationship for our ebook, Companies are from Mars, Freelancers are from Venus. Here are their top three tips.

1. Be clear on freelance administrative and legal matters

It’s important to be fully aware of the administrative considerations that the freelancer–company relationship is subject to, and clear and open about them with freelancers you work with.

It’s usually the company’s responsibility to check that the freelancer has a valid status, whether they are registered on their own as a sole trader or via a freelance administration company. The company also must check that the freelancer has made the necessary declarations to social security organizations and tax authorities.

To keep on the right side of European employment laws, companies must respect the freelancer’s status as an independent worker. This means there can be no “subordinate relationship” between company and freelancer – the freelancer should not be treated the same as a full-time employee, with a traditional hierarchical link and a traditional form of direct management.

With freelancers making up 25% of Europe’s 13 million digital professionals – and growing – the benefits of building a relationship with key freelance talent for your business are evident. And the keys to making it work are simply the basic building blocks of good communication: clarity and trust.

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2. Communicate with freelancers regularly and clearly

At the kick-off you will have clearly outlined the project with a thorough brief and provided a point person to act as the freelancer’s key contact

The better a freelancer understands your needs, the more likely they are to deliver a knockout result. Create an environment of open, two-way communication – be available for discussion and provide revisions on the work as needed. Encourage questions.

As Pierre-Emmanuel Marc, Facebook Ads expert says, “An organized client will help make an organized freelancer. Communicating the tasks to deal with as early as possible to the freelancer is key so that he can organize himself in the best way possible with the rest of his missions.”

Whether the freelancer is in the office or remote, regular check-ins are vital to track progress and keep the discussion open. Weekly is ideal, but the cadence should be decided case-by-case and discussed with the freelancer. A tip: if the freelancer is remote, it’s a nice idea to keep your camera on for video calls (at least at first). Putting a face to the email signature is a great relationship-builder.

Avoid entangling freelancers in the company’s regular meeting schedule. One benefit of working with freelancers is that they’re 100% on-task, undistracted by the normal background noise of most businesses. (Although remember that freelancers often work on multiple projects at a time.) Find the balance: keep them in the loop on project-critical topics, while not stealing project time for non-essential meetings. You can share wider company information that may be relevant to their project during your regular check-ins.

3. Give freelancers feedback and listen to their advice

Regular feedback on the freelancer’s work will keep them on track. And don’t hesitate to give constructive, respectful feedback if you’re not getting the required results. Often this is caused by an expectation gap – by giving detailed, constructive criticism you should be able to help the freelancer deliver exactly what you want. 

The feedback should be proactive, concrete and actionable. Describe the problem, explain it clearly and offer some possible solutions. Most freelancers will take the feedback on board as a learning opportunity and try hard to turn it around.

Don’t hesitate to give positive feedback, either. Freelancers take pride in their professional standards and just like anyone, they love hearing praise for a job well done. If they know you’re happy with the level of work you’re providing, they’ll strive to keep kicking those goals. 

As “outsiders” in the business, freelancers can be more open to making suggestions for change or improvement.

“As an external consultant, I can often drive change more easily than a full-time employee,” says Dr Maria Bartschat, Digital Transformation Coach. “My main motivation is to deliver a successful result without wasting time on internal processes or company politics.”

Freelancers often work with many different companies, with different cultures and practices, in different industries. They bring a variety of experiences, new ideas and approaches that can enrich and inspire – even transform – your company’s methods and processes. Invite their feedback, during regular catch-ups or at the end of the project in a more formal two-way feedback session. Don’t miss the opportunity to benefit from their experience. 

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