— February 3, 2017
Time management is a challenge for most professionals these days, from entrepreneurs to interns. For the many businesses now relying on contract workers, it becomes even more pressing, especially if they’re paying an hourly fee.
Every minute has a dollar sign attached, so it’s important that contractors avoid wasting those minutes sitting in unnecessary meetings or reading useless email.
“One of the biggest benefits of using freelancers (1099’s, contractors, etc) is the ability to keep them out of unnecessary meetings and away from unnecessary distractions,” says Michael Solomon, Co-Founder of Tech Talent Agency 10x Management.
“This means you save money with them compared to W-2 employees. When you really factor in that savings, 1099 workers tend to look more attractive. Of course, you only really get this value when you manage them all well.”
The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to get the most out of every hour your contractors put toward your project. Here are a few tips to help you maximize that time and save money.
1. Set Clear Expectations
From the very beginning, you should make clear the work outcomes you expect from your contractors, complete with a timeline. When your contractors are aware of their deadlines, they’ll be more likely to work toward them on a day-to-day basis.
You should also demonstrate the weekly work output you expect from your contract team. You can’t require set work hours for non-salaried staff, but you can define the quantity and quality of work you expect with clear milestones to know you are on track.
2. Use Calendars
Calendars are the best way to collaboratively manage your team’s time. Add both your salaried and contractor personnel to your calendars and make sure everyone can see the deadlines specific to the projects they’re working on currently.
Set up notifications and alerts that remind key team members of approaching deadlines that are relevant to them. Over time, you’ll likely find your team is consistently aware of the timelines for various projects and adjusting their daily workload accordingly.
3. Reduce Emails
Every business is aware of the sheer volume of emails that comes through its servers each day. Contractors aren’t immune from this avalanche, and often they find that they spend far too much of their hourly work time responding to email messages.
Put procedures in place that reduce email volumes for both staff and contractors and you’ll likely find overall workplace productivity improves. Of course, this shouldn’t be done at the expense of documenting expectations, deliverables and important changes.
4. Regroup Regularly
On a periodic basis, bring your team, including the contractors, together for a quick status update. Make sure these updates are planned in advance. This awareness will push them to work harder in the periods between meetings.
In addition to asking for an update on past progress, also request that each team-member announce what will be accomplished in the upcoming weeks or months. Have an agenda ahead of the meeting and try to keep your meetings as short and productive as possible.
As disruptive as meetings can be, when workers know that they’ll be efficient, they’ll mind them less than if each meeting drags on needlessly.
5. Use Collaboration Tools
As distracting as they can be, collaboration tools can keep your teams connected in a more productive manner than email.
Instead of firing a series of email messages with reply-to-alls, a collaboration tool brings everyone to the same place, where they can ask questions, share notes, and provide information on the work they’re doing. This ensures everyone working on a project is aware of what is happening at all times, helping you identify issues before they progress too far.
6. Evaluate and Move Forward
Your work with contractors is the prime opportunity for you to learn and grow as a leader. Pay close attention to the lessons learned from your working relationship with freelancers and independent contractors.
“We often hear from our customers that they learned so much from working with our contractors about best practices for managing a team,” Says Solomon. “It makes me smile every time it happens.”
It is always important to evaluate what works? What doesn’t? For additional insight, routinely ask contractors for their own input into the experience of working with your company. Over time, you’ll be able to use this information to create stronger, more productive contractor relationships.
Contract workers can bring many benefits to a business, including a high level of expertise. However, the cost of paying contractors can add up if a business ties them up in needless meetings and bombards them with unnecessary emails every day.
It’s important to give contractors the support they need to be as productive as possible. In doing that, you’ll make sure you meet your deadlines and get the most out of every dollar you spend.