Guide to collaborating effectively with freelancers and remote workers
If you haven't worked with an online, remote freelancer before you may be
wondering how this would work:
Can an online freelancer really do as much as in-house staff?
How would a freelancer access the packages I use?
Could I let my freelancer get on with the work or would I still be spending time checking up on them?
Online tools are the way to go!
With the rise in the popularity of working from home and online freelancing, so too comes the creation of
multiple tools that can help you and your freelancer work together more effectively and productively.
These tools make it even easier to use freelancers in your business.
We have included some tips and tools that you'll find useful when working with freelancers, and have
focused on four themes:
One of the most common worries when thinking of hiring a freelancer is that you will not be
able to trust that the work is being done. As with anyone working for you it is important to
make sure that your freelancer is focussed and working proactively. Naturally as you get to
know your workers more, your trust in them grows - you can monitor things in the office and
see the work coming in.
Trello is an online to do list with a difference,
it can be used as an individual or with a
team, meaning that you can add work to your freelancers list and see as the tasks you've set
move from "To do" to "Done". You can see how your project is progressing by just glancing at
the board and it updates immediately. You can even post comments on a task to give instant
feedback to your freelancer. Here's a simple example of a
Another concern you may have about working with freelancers is that they
are quoting and charging accurately for the time they are working on your project.
Toggl is a time tracking tool which will show you exactly
how much time your freelancer has spent on your project. Most freelancers are used to tracking their time so may well
already be using either this or another tool
such as Harvest
"How do I get all these files over to my freelancer" and "This file is way to big to email,
how do I send it" are questions you'll ask yourself quite frequently when working with remote freelancers.
Here the choices you have are vast! There are a whole heap of ways to send and receive large files.
Of course, you can send files through the weliketowork application, but here's some of the other file sharing
services out there that we're fond of:
Google Drive - 15GB of free storage.
Very handy if you're working on Google's Apps.
Microsoft OneDrive - 5GB of free storage.
Probably the best choice if you have an Office 365 subscription as you get 1TB.
All of the above have pretty decent user access options, so if you're working on a number of projects
with a number of freelancers, you can make sure each freelancer only gets access to the files and folders
relevant to their project.
Sharing ideas and inspiration
As you and your freelancers start getting stuck into your projects, you'll want to share ideas,
things that could inspire or improve your result. Of course, you can do your best to describe
your thoughts and visions with words in an email. But sometimes, it's true, a picture
(or sketch or diagram) is worth a thousand words.
Here are some tools that are very useful for sharing your ideas. Most of these tools offer
a free account too.
Evernote - Has a great feature that lets you draw free hand.
Google Keep - Offers a Chrome browser extension that lets you save
ideas as you discover them on the web.
Pinterest - The secret board option is a great way for sharing inspirational images.
Xmind - A mind-mapping tool, great for connecting all the ideas you have.
Draw.io - Really, really handy for creating process or flow diagrams.
Decide your tools together at the start of a project
Freelancers are typically very comfortable using any and every collaborative tool out there, including most of the
ones we've mentioned above.
When you create the brief for your project, it's a good idea to include your preferred tools where possible,
so the freelancer can ensure they are familiar with how best to work with you.
If you're new to this way of working, outsourcing tasks to a freelancer might feel risky. In this guide, there are some tactics you can use to reduce the risk of hiring a freelancer for the first time.