Whether you rely on regional sales representatives, a freelance accountant, or a remote IT team to manage your ecommerce site, some of your most valuable employees may rarely set foot in the office. How do you create a cohesive company culture with a team that includes remote contractors? Finding ways to motivate, inspire, and integrate your freelance workforce into this culture can make the difference between an employee who's simply working for a paycheck and one who is engaged with your core business values. Here are a few tips to bring them on board.
Image Source: Pixabay
1. Hold virtual team meetings.
Holding regular meetings with the staff allows you to discuss the progress of current projects, future plans, and team priorities. It's common to manage contractors individually, without giving them the chance to interact, network, and connect with the larger team. This can lead to the lonely feeling that there is a wall between them and the company as a whole. To bring them into your company culture, invite them to contribute in regular group meetings. Programs like Google Hangouts, Skype, and other group meeting tools allow contractors to network with one another as well as with the core team. This gives your business the added bonus of new, valuable perspectives from skilled specialists.
2. Keep them in the loop.
Along these same lines, if there are changes to interoffice procedures or project requirements, don't make your contractor the last one to get the memo. Keep them updated as you would any regular employee, by sending out regular updates via email or reaching out with a quick phone call. In addition to useful information in the short term, share your company's long term goals and vision. Knowing what you're ultimately working towards can motivate contractors to help achieve those goals together.
3. Take the time to check in.
Small daily interactions are part of what makes up a company's culture. Contractors miss out on the experience of brainstorming over a cup of coffee or casually chatting as they come in the office each day. When you draft emails to remote workers, don't forget the pleasantries. Ask how their weekend went, details of upcoming travel plans, or about the status of other projects they may be working on. Casual conversations create a feeling of mutual trust, and will make remote workers feel like part of a team.
4. Play to their strengths.
Contractors are hired for their experience in a specific industry or area of competence. Use this specialist information to your advantage. Rather than micromanaging your freelancers, recruit skilled workers as aggressively as you would an in-house employee to be sure that they possess the values and skills your business needs. After this, delegate tasks according to their strengths.
5. Give positive feedback.
Take the time to recognize the hard work and effort that your remote team puts in. Praise them for a job well done, or provide a financial incentive at the completion of a project. Even if you have no other work for a contractor at the present time, you still want them to remember working for your brand as a positive experience, and you may need their skills again in the future. A simple 'thank you' can go a long way!
Rather than viewing freelance workers as a tool to be managed, view them as part of your overall talent strategy. Choosing employees with the right skills who understand your company values will make it easier to create a remote team that puts their all into every project.