Having independent contractors at companies of all sizes is the new normal. Busy seasons demand extra bandwidth, full-time employees take temporary leave or unique/temporary roles need to be filled.
Whatever the reason, getting support from contractors can provide scale, flexibility and specialized skills to your team—which is why their popularity continues to grow. For example, 51 percent of companies say their need for contingent workers will continue to grow within the next three to five years. Alongside, the talent pool is changing to match this trend: By 2020, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.
Finding the right contractor for the right job is only the first step. They’ll likely be working outside of your office, but will still need to rely on the resources your internal teams use daily. If you want to enable your contractors to do their best work, you need to ensure they have the right tools to collaborate with your internal teams.
Here are four tips to set your independent contractors up for success:
Make it easy for your contractors to stay in touch. Set up technology that allows them to communicate with and get to know your internal teams. This can (and should) come in the form of many tools, so they can choose the ones they prefer. Enable them to send instant messages to anyone in the company. Promote the use of video conferencing and screen sharing for efficient collaboration. Not only will this increase productivity, but it will allow full-time employees and contractors to build more personal relationships with face-to-face communication.
Will your independent contractor be working across several teams or projects? If so, then you may want to consider a chat-based workspace—not just for them, but also for the rest of your team. They shouldn’t struggle to keep up with dozens of private instant messages about similar projects. Instead, get them on a threaded group chat that allows for more organized web-based collaboration.
#2—share files with ease
Depending on when and where your contractors work, coordinating across time zones and locations may be a factor in their success. Avoid a situation where a contractor is stuck waiting for a team member to come online to gain access to files. Instead, opt for cloud-based file sharing and storing. That way, contractors can get the files and documents they need around the clock to get the job done. And with permission settings, you can restrict and permit access to the specific files an independent contractor needs, and revoke access when a contract ends.
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#3—stay on the same page
Enhance collaboration with the ability to co-author (edit and work) on the same online documents. It’ll prevent excessive back-and-forth on email between team members. Digital files automatically sync and update over the internet, so your team is always looking at the most up-to-date version. And since your files live in the cloud, you’ll always know who made the last edit and can review and revoke changes if you ever need to go back to an older version.
#4—secure your data
Security may not always be top of mind for your employees and contractors—but it is for you and your IT team. Strike a balance between giving your extended team what they need while retaining control over your company’s data. The file access you give to your freelancers doesn’t need to last forever. When their contract is over, simply revoke access remotely. Even if your independent contractor has used their own device to access your data, cloud-based tools can delete your company’s files from that device.
With the right technology and infrastructure, independent contractors can become an effective extension of your team. Forget disruptions, lost files or a lack of security. The right tools can solve those problems and help your teams do their best work.