So far in this series, we have discussed the importance of consistent motivation, having a game planing and frequent planned meetings as methods to get the most out of remote freelancers. Today we will be discussing another key strategy to ensure you get quality work from freelancers. That strategy is proper onboarding. Whether the freelancers are just down the hall or across the world, continued and proper onboarding is absolutely critical to the development process. This not only applies to new hires but at every stage in the work lifecycle. As businesses continue to evolve in the remote workforce arena, proper onboarding becomes especially important to achieve consistent results and reinforce your desired company culture.
Many of the same onboarding principles used to create optimal onboarding programs for onsite freelancersalso apply to remote freelancers as well. However, remote workforces typically require a more methodical approach because you aren’t able to communicate face to face.
Webinar onboarding can be performed live or recorded. While live is best, it may be difficult to coordinate proper onboarding if remote freelancers are in different time zones. Use animation and imagery to capture and maintain freelancers’ attention. If possible, include chat pods, intermittent quizzes and breakout sessions that work virtually. The ideal set up is an exchange back and forth rather than passively receiving information. The more you can create participation and a classroom feel, the more likely you are to execute proper onboarding.
While not as effective as an online classroom, reading and e-learning assignments are an easy way to assign set up to a remote workforce. These assignments can be done at their own pace in between regular workloads. Following up with reviews and evaluations is necessary to ensure the information is being reviewed and properly understood.
For all new remote freelancers, consider creating an onboarding package. This package should contain everything that the new freelancer will need in order to do their work each day and general onboarding materials. Include information and fun facts about your company and make sure a new freelancer knows who to contact if they have any questions. This proper onboarding package can save you loads of time and make the onboarding process smooth for both parties.
Immediate feedback is one of the most important ways to onboard freelancers no matter where they do their work. For each project that a remote freelancer is on, let them know right away what they did well and what needs improvement. Evaluate if the freelancer needs additional onboarding and provide it right away. By providing immediate and ongoing feedback, you will set up a freelancer on the quality of work you expect. You can also use this opportunity to coach a freelancer on communication style, attitude requirements and timeliness. It is your responsibility to let a freelancer know if there is something that needs improvement. Do not assume the remote freelancer knows anything that you have not explicitly spelled out.
You may not be able to stand over a remote freelancer’s shoulder to walk them through a process, but technology makes it possible to come pretty close. Schedule a time that works for the two of you, and hold a screen sharing session. If you share your screen, the remote freelancer can watch you perform the task which you are teaching. Once you have shown them the process, have the freelancer share their screen so you can watch him or her perform the same task and check for understanding. This is a quick and extremely effective approach to onboarding remote freelancers that doesn’t take any planning in advance. You can use it as needed throughout the freelancer’s career. If time differences make this impossible, simply capture your screen on video and send it over.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to give onboarding once and assume the freelancer maintains and applies it forever. The only way to continually reinforce policies, procedures, rules and company culture is through frequent onboarding and reminders. This is especially true for freelancers in remote locations. These freelancers need to continually feel connected to your business mission and the people they work with.
Remember that proper onboarding and managing remote freelancers requires flexibility. When you are creating your virtual onboarding program, devise set up and learning programs and processes that keep freelancers engaged and participating. Accept feedback and continually improve your onboarding program as your company and work dynamic evolve.
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.
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