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Managing Freelance Staff: Making the Most of Collaboration

Top view of young woman working at her desk with laptop and documents. Business woman working at desk in office.

Top view of young woman working at her desk with laptop and documents. Business woman working at desk in office.

Freelancing is a prominent facet in the post-recession economy. According to the Freelancer’s Union, one third of the U.S. workforce freelances its services. That’s 53 million people with skills to sell without being hired and put on payroll.

Using technologies that tie them to their clients, even temporarily, these freelancers can be the way for small businesses to get temporary help as often as needed.

What Freelance Work Is Offered Out There?

Just about anything can be freelanced for today’s office.

Think of how you call contractors to get estimates for property-related work. Smart businesses use the same framework to find freelancers to deliver everything from marketing work, like building a website, to scheduling staff travel. This used to be called “outsourcing,” but this phrase became linked to sending jobs outside the country. Most U.S. businesses can easily hire U.S. consultants and avoid this controversial issue.

For example, virtual assistant services are wise choices for small business owners who need to focus on their own business services, rather than get sidetracked with routine work. Virtual assistants also offer services that may be lacking in the local workforce, such as bilingual customer service or processing payments from foreign clients.

Technology Lets Staff Collaborate From Remote Sites

Of course, the first concern may be how to communicate with someone who isn’t in the office, or even the same time zone.

Today, we have technologies that let remote staff work pretty easily with one another, and it is more common than you may think. Very few businesses these days don’t have staff working with someone who’s outside the actual office. Although some businesses are still wary of telecommuting (thank you very much Marissa Mayer), many do turn to outside consultants and freelancers to handle temporary projects. Here are some tech solutions that make collaboration possible:

  • Save all files to a cloud server. Cloud servers are excellent solutions for collaborating remotely. Rather than emailing documents, which often results in confusion over the “latest” version and edits that get left out, documents are kept offsite and accessed through the Internet. Almost all cloud services can be accessed on mobile devices as well. There are a ton of companies offering this service now, so do your research to find a cloud storage provider that has the features and price that meet your specific needs.
  • Online conferencing. Skype is so popular that it’s pre-loaded on most tablets and smartphones, allowing for face-to-face meetings with staff on the road, remote employees and out-of-area freelancers. If you need to conference with a lot of people , virtual assistants can help with the set up, hosting and real-time troubleshooting. You can also try to do it yourself through any number of services like GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts.
  • Manage mobile devices used at work. Most of your employees, remote and onsite, use their smartphones or tablets (or both) for work purposes. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is here to stay and even small companies need to figure out how to manage different devices for security reasons. Mobile application management (MAM) software can help you and your employees identify apps that can be safely downloaded and used without intruding on their personal use of their mobile devices, according to Wired.
Posted on June 18th, 2015 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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