Maintaining a Relationship With Freelancers

Business owners must often turn to independent contractors and freelancers for the skills and knowledge they possess. Utilizing the skills of an independent developer isn't that uncommon. In fact, the Freelancers Union reports that 34 percent of the workforce in the United States is comprised of people who perform freelance work. Maintaining a professional relationship with your independent developer is critical to your organization's success over the long haul. That being said, here is a look at some of the best practices for doing so:

Recognize the Conditions

Independent contractors and developers are sometimes difficult to manage if you are not used to working with them. The most important thing you must understand is that interactions with independent developers must be result driven, not process driven. Independent contractors typically require a hands-off method of direction, and should not be treated like a staff member that has to work a certain amount of hours at specific times. Remember, you hired them for a project because you need their skills and knowledge, so give them space to work and your relationship will flourish.

Handle Contracts and Payment

It's critical that you create a detailed contract that outlines your expectations and the payment your independent developer will receive. Your written agreement should set a clear timeline and payment structure for the job, including how the contractor will bill you for the labor and services. If you haven't already set up an online accounting software, doing so will simplify many of the issues that come with paying a freelance employee. You can find free accounting software that tracks invoices, creates reports and integrates with other online small business solutions that are commonly used by independent contractors.

Carefully track all payments and invoices in case there are any tax or legal issues that arise later on. If you misclassify an employee, you may be held liable for employment taxes for that worker by the IRS, so be sure you have paperwork to support your relationship.

Be Available

Just because independent developers don't work in your office doesn't mean they should be left completely on their own. You must be available to answer any questions they may have regarding your needs if you want them to give you their best work. For longer projects, make time in your schedule to plan semi-regular meetings with your freelancer to be sure you are consistently on the same page. If you can't meet face to face, use video-conferencing apps, like Google Hangouts, to meet. Don't rely on email as your main means of communication because they are easy to lose track of and are an inefficient way to quickly communicate complicated ideas.

Too often, businesses maintain impersonal relationships with contractors simply because they aren't sitting at a desk in the office. This makes it difficult to create relationships that last and grow. If you make the effort to treat your developer like a part of your team instead of a service vending machine, you will develop a long-term relationship. That means the next time you need their services, you will have established a professional interaction that results in a positive environment for your freelancer and high-quality work for your project.

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