For many start-ups and new creative agencies, managing a virtual team may well be essential at the early stage until you find the right person to join you in a full time basis. Also, being a service type business hiring the right person can be an enormous factor in client retention and can even make or break your business. Here we discuss how you can create a successful virtual team and use the tools such as Workflow Max and Xero can help you stay ahead.
Finding the right person
You may need someone with specialist skills or you may just need an extra person to help manage the team’s workload. In any case, the best way to find someone competent is through referrals and recommendations. Asking current staff, friends and family if they know anyone who can suit your requirements is often the best way to find someone. This is because the person will have essentially passed some pre approval checks for suitability. This will also save you time and money as you will bypass the step of creating and posting recruitment adverts and sifting through application forms to find the right person.
If however you do need to advertise for the post, firstly carry out an initial assessment of what exactly you need and expect from a freelancer. This will help guide you on who you need to work with your team and exactly what you will need from them.
A freelancer will usually be equipped correctly to work effectively, i.e. have the basic IT and software for the role and readily contactable online.
However, you may need to consider if you need to supply access to particular software or tools from your company in order for them to be able to work on your project. Another thing to consider is if WorkflowMax may assist you in tracking work done?
Managing the freelancer
Providing a single liaison for the freelancer is the most efficient way to manage the virtual member of staff. If one in-house contact manages all questions, queries and reports from the freelancer, this provides clarity for the freelancer and is the most efficient way to manage things as other members of staff are not bombarded with queries from the freelancer and additionally, having one dedicated contact should mean the freelancer does not need to wait for answers from other team members who may be busy with other work.
Paying the right price
It can be argued that the best way to pay a freelancer is on an hourly basis. This provides accuracy for both you and the freelance member of staff to determine how long a project takes and the staff cost involved. The disadvantage of this is that should the freelancer not be working efficiently, the time tracked against a particular job could be inaccurate. Having a set fee for a particular project may be preferable where you will be certain from the start exactly what the fixed cost of the freelancer will be and you can budget that into the overall project cost.
If freelancers are regularly employed, then consideration should be given to make them feel part of the team. Joining meetings via telephone or video calling for project meetings is a must, but they may also welcome the opportunity to come into the office and meet team members they have been working with online, perhaps even going that bit further and socialising with the team out of normal working hours, would be something that could enhance team bonding. It’s also a good idea to involve non office based staff by sending them staff news and updates about the company, so that they feel part of the team. All this can help a freelancer feel invested in the company and increase their motivation to work harder for the company.
Xero and Workflow Max
Xero and Workflow Max are two tools which can help you with a virtual team. Not only can you track the time spent on projects but you can also track the costs to you per project and schedule tasks and jobs per client to your virtual team. Given that both Workflow Max and Xero are cloud based, you and your team can collaborate in real time and finally Xero which integrates with Workflow Max can then provide you with up to date profitability.
If you know there will be relevant project work coming up in the future, it’s a good idea to keep a note of which freelancers you would want to join you again. Even if there’s nothing on the horizon, it’s a good idea to keep in touch with those freelancers that you know you can trust and rely on so that when the need arises, you can count on them to come into the company and work on a project. However, do bear in mind that in the interim they could be working with your competitors. So be mindful of the contact you have with freelancers, keep them close, but not too close!
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This article is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.