When hiring or working with an online freelancer, there are certain things that you have to keep in mind as employers. Below are suggested best practices that you may want to implement when you hire an online freelancer.
- Make your job description as clear and concise as possible – When you hire an online freelancer, make sure that you outline his/her responsibilities clearly. If possible, make a list of the work you expect from your worker. Never expect something because it is implied. Remember, you are only connecting through the internet and you don’t have the luxury of using anything else but words to get your message across. Use screenshots and screencasts liberally. Jing is an excellent free service for creating and quickly uploading screenshots and screencasts.
- Agree to a payment plan and stick with it – If you agree to pay your contractor on a weekly, bi-monthly, or on a monthly basis, make sure that you stick with it. Do not pay weekly this month and then switch to a monthly payment scheme the next, unless agreed upon. It will be very difficult for your workers to manage their finances if you are inconsistent with your payment schedule. More importantly, if you agreed to pay a certain rate, make sure that you follow it. You cannot decide to pay your worker less this week because you just feel like it. It will be very unfair to them if you do this.
- Evaluate your contractors’ output and give them feedback for their work – Workers would like to know if they are going in the right track with the assignment you gave them or if they’re doing a great job with it. If you like what they’re doing, don’t hesitate to tell them. A little praise for their hard work does a lot for their morale and will motivate them to be better at their job. Similarly, if you feel that your worker’s output is not up to par with your expectations, let them know. Contractors will appreciate constructive criticism and this will guide them in the right direction and allow them to improve the work that they’re doing for you.
- Make it easy for your worker to contact you – While doing the tasks you assigned them, your workers may feel the need to contact you with a question or clarification. Being readily available to do that will help hasten the task completion and minimize your worker’s waiting time for your response. You can use instant messaging systems like Skype, Yahoo messenger, or Google talk.
- Allow your workers some time off if they need to – As with traditional jobs, there are times when your contractors may get sick and would need some time off. Maybe they have an important family affair they need to attend. Whatever the case, allowing your workers to take some time off will impart the message that you care for their welfare.
- Give periodic bonuses for a job well done – If your worker helped you close a deal that made you earn lots of money or if you are just feeling grateful for their help, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a bonus. Giving bonuses to your workers is an affirmation that you appreciate the job that they do for you. It makes them feel appreciated and motivates them to be better at what they do.
- If your worker deserves it, give him/her a pay increase – The rate that you agreed to pay your contractor at the start of your working relationship is just a start off point. If you feel that he/she is doing great work and has been with you long enough, you can give a pay increase. A pay increase is the ultimate appreciation you can give your worker.
- Trust your worker – As with any relationship, trust is very important. If you don’t trust your worker, you will never have a good working relationship with him/her. Of course, trust should be earned and should go both ways. But, if your worker has proven that he/she is trustworthy, you have to trust them until they prove otherwise.
- Communicate! – In outsourcing, communication is key. You have to constantly communicate with your contractors and follow up on their work. When you do, you have to be articulate and precise. Go straight to the point and don’t mince words. However, you have to remember to exercise tact and to mind your workers’ feelings, which brings me to the final best practice…
- Respect your worker – At the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing – respect. You and your worker should have mutual respect for each other. Always abide by the golden rule. Mutual respect will ensure that you will have a great relationship with each other.
All that I mentioned above are just meant as guides. As you go on with outsourcing more work to more people, you will find what works best for you. You also have to remember that you are working with people and their personalities, values, and ethics may vary with yours. You will find that what works with one contractor may not work for another. However, the more you outsource and the longer you have been doing it, you will find that dealing with contractors will become second nature to you.