Discover more from All Remote - with Mark Wormgoor
Onboarding remote freelancers
Three do's, three don'ts
Before we get started, a heads-up. This week has a different format. It’s shorter, more to the point, without loosing too much information.
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This week, a bit of background on onboarding freelancers. Just did this again last week - and these are my personal do’s and don’ts.
📝 DO #1: Legal mumbo-jumbo
This one always gets me on websites such as Fiverr, Upwork and other platforms. It sound boring, but things can get really bad if you don’t pay attention. Before you share any confidential information with a freelancer - make sure you cover these items:
Know their legal ID; if anything happens, you need to know who to hold accountable.
Cover Intellectual Property; make sure that anything that gets delivered you own all rights to.
Non-disclosure & Privacy; any information you share with a freelancer is at risk. You need to be absolutely sure that they’ll take care of it with the same care you would. Plus, you don’t want any of this showing up on the internet for your competitors to find.
Liability; what will happen if anything goes wrong?
Of course this depends on the work you’re asking for. If it’s a simple logo design, IP is a lot more important than the rest. But, if you’re giving a developer access to your entire GIT repository, or you’re giving someone access to your CRM system, non-disclosure and privacy become really important.
☎️ DO #2: Communicate
Establish clear communication channels. Make sure your freelancer understands how to communicate with you and other team members, what tools they need to use, and how often they should check-in.
Are you going to onboard them to your Slack/Teams/Google platform? Or are you OK with sticking to email / WhatsApp?
It really depends on how long they’ll be working for you, and how closely they need to interact with you and your team. Is it a short, stand-alone assignment, then stick to email or WhatsApp. Otherwise, do consider taking them through the full onboarding as you would any new employee.
Schedule regular check-ins, especially in the first couple of weeks - to see how the freelancer is doing, and to answer any questions. Plus, keep yourself available to answer any questions they may have, respond quickly to any messages and manage expectations as to when you’re available.
💬 DO #3: Manage Expectations
Be clear about what you expect from someone, especially in their first weeks. They’re new, they won’t know everything about your team, coding environment or organization - but you do expect them to get up-to-speed quickly. Be realistic though!
Others often start by asking to review documentation, but I’m a big fan of jumping straight in. Give your freelancer a simple task that will require them to understand your team, your environment, and your processes - and give them a clear deadline, not more than 2 weeks away.
🔎 DON’T #1: Micro-manage
Since you can’t see your freelancer, you won’t see what they’re working on. Especially in the beginning, you’ll feel the urge to check up on them regularly (I know… I get that feeling as well). Resist!
If you’ve done #1-3, this should not be necessary. Your freelancer knows what they’re working on, they know where to go for questions - and you should have regular check-ins with them to ensure they feel they can ask any question they’d like. When they deliver their first task is when you first get to see their output. This is also the time to give them constructive feedback, if necessary.
Over time, keep up the structure of giving autonomy, clear communications, being available for questions, validating the result and giving constructive feedback when necessary.
⏱️ DON’T #2: Expect availability
Most freelancers are in different timezones. And even if they’re not, there may be personal reasons why they’re not working a 9-17. Measure your freelancers by their output, not their availability.
Personally, I do a lot of work with the Philippines. They’re six (or in winter seven) hours ahead of us. They often work during their day, and we have meetings at the end of their afternoon, early my morning. Our overlap is just 1-2 hours. Others prefer to work late afternoon and evening. Our overlap is most of my day.
❓ DON’T #3: Ignore questions or concerns
Freelancers working remotely can feel isolated. They won’t know if their work is appreciated, and if they have unaddressed questions or concerns - they may feel frustrated or get demotivated. After all, your freelancer is a human being as well!
We’ve talked about availability and regular check-ins. Encourage your freelancer to ask questions and express concerns. Listen actively. When they have questions, give timely answers. When they raise concerns, address them quickly.
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Have an amazing week,
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