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While it’s undeniable that relying on remote workers offers many conveniences, it can also have its pitfalls. This article is written to help improve your chances of having the best outcome when hiring remote contract workers.
First, know this: dependence on contract workers is here to stay.
The shift toward using contract workers is not merely a trending fad, but evidence of a significant cultural change. The “gig economy” is projected to constitute over 50% of all workers in the U.S. by 2027.
As societies around the world become increasingly mobile thanks in huge part to digital technology, our options are opening up, and our traditional work and hiring practices are evolving to become more agile. Besides the benefit of greater flexibility, businesses can also see substantial savings when using independent contractors since, in most cases, a company will not be responsible for costs related to employee healthcare, payroll taxes, and general overhead.
The evolution of the gig economy has been especially helpful for organizations that struggle to fill specific roles due to geographic limitations and a small pool of qualified local talent. For example, over 90% of companies recently surveyed claim to struggle when searching for marketing professionals. Given this information, it’s unsurprising that marketing specialists like web developers and content writers, make up some of the highest percentages of remote contract hires.
Who’s hiring remote contractors and why.
Remote contracting is often assumed to be predominantly practiced by small businesses and startups. While it’s true these entities do make liberal use of contractors; large corporations are certainly also partaking in the mass shift toward hiring off-site help.
Tech giants like Google make extensive use of remote and in-house contractors, even causing controversy in the process. “Legacy” corporations like American Express cite advantages like greater management flexibility and access to a deeper talent pool as reasons for outsourcing to contractors.
3 big mistakes to avoid when hiring remote contractors.
1.Not confirming a contractor’s credentials.
There are quite a few bad tales from businesses who hired a remote contractor only to end up with substandard work, a poor experience, or a completely wasted budget. Scenarios like these can easily be avoided if time is taken to properly vet a contractor before hiring them.
Perhaps the simplest way to confirm a contractor’s abilities is by reviewing their portfolio. Though not very common, there are unfortunately a few instances where contractors take credit for other people or agencies’ work, so it’s important not to end your evaluation here. Ask for references from past clients, and you can also search the Internet for reviews of the contractor’s work.
In some cases, you may have a capable contractor with a great resume, but no portfolio, reviews, or recent references. This can happen if, for example, the contractor spent years conducting white label work for another organization, and they are bound by a nondisclosure agreement.
In this scenario, you can set up a sample or test project that’s a good representation of the type of work you will need the remote contractor to complete. Because sample projects are a reliable way to showcase competency and build trust, we make them available to all new Funnel Amp clients.
Based on the sample project’s results, you will be able to decide whether or not to hire the contractor. Another option here is to agree upon a probationary contract period—two to three months is typical—to get a better idea of how the contractor will work with your organization before entering into a longer-term arrangement.
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Businesses that divulge horror stories about bad contract hires often have another characteristic in common. More times than not, they attempted to hire as cheaply as possible as opposed to focusing on quality. If specialists in your industry are typically contracted for $100 or more per hour, it’s completely unrealistic to expect similar results while only paying a fraction of that price.
As an example, a typical hourly rate for a front-end web designer in the U.S. is $60-$80, yet if you visit a freelance job board like Upwork, it’s not uncommon to see job posts seeking front-end designers for as little as $5 per hour. Because Upwork is an international freelance portal with 12 million registered contractors, the quality and pricing on the site is highly variable. No matter where you choose to search for remote contractors, it’s a universal truth that, in most cases, you get what you pay for, so it helps to be willing to pay for higher quality.
Admittedly, it can be a bit challenging to nail down a realistic price for hiring a contractor. As a start, you can run a simple Google search for the average hourly rate for the type of contractor you need to hire. Most search results will come from career and job boards like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Salary.com. Be aware that there is a difference between what a salaried worker (lower) will be paid per hour versus an independent contractor (higher) since independent contractors cover all of their own overhead expenses.
As you continue your research, visit a few websites of contractors and agencies whose portfolios represent the caliber of work you need. You can then reach out to those you’ve short-listed to receive quotes for comparison. Quotes are almost always free. If you have limited available time to handle the research yourself, in a pinch, you can enlist the services of a staffing firm to help match you to pre-qualified contractors.
3.Poor communication and lack of respect.
Working with a remote contractor requires mutual trust and respect from both parties, and nothing will drive a contract arrangement off the rails faster than a lack of both. Additionally, poor communication will only worsen a situation that has already turned rocky.
From the contractor’s side, it must be understood that a business is taking a measured risk to delegate critical work to a person or agency outside of the organization. It’s incumbent upon the contractor to provide the hiring organization with an outline of scheduled milestones and regular updates, so the hiring party is not left in a frustrating state of limbo. It’s also vitally important to be available and responsive, within reason, to answer a client’s questions.
Conversely, a client should be committed to making a reasonable effort to help a contractor succeed with the assigned work. This doesn’t mean micromanaging a contractor, since a seasoned professional will not require such oversight, nor appreciate it.
Instead, this references such things as, making sure the contractor has one assigned point person to whom they report, since this will limit the chance for confusion. Also important is responding to requests for data or materials, and completing action items in a reasonable time frame so that the work continues to move along on schedule.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that it’s always helpful to remember that there is a human being at the end of the email, text, or chat message. Sometimes actions that come across as disrespectful are merely instances of miscommunication since digital conversations can be a poor substitute for face-to-face interactions. For this reason, it is even more important that both parties commit to doing their part to foster a good working relationship.
Get more tips to help your next project succeed.
The tips in this article are gathered from 15 plus years of contracting experience. If you found them helpful, you will likely receive even more value from Funnel Amp’s recent podcast 10 Tips for Getting 5 Star Results from a Contractor. You can listen by clicking below:
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About the Author
Head Project Manager / Developer
Sequoia is the founder and Head Project Manager at Funnel Amp. She launched the agency to provide clients with access to full-stack content marketing services that focus on high-quality and conversion optimization.