Two years into the pandemic, the terms “remote”, “hybrid” and “blended work” have become a mainstay in workplace jargon, so it is not unlikely that if you own or run a business, you have one of these new-ish practices in place. In fact, you make up a growing majority of companies trying to get their footing in the new normal. According to a survey conducted by SHRM, over 43% of the 416 small businesses surveyed (with 500 employees or less), said that they were looking for ways to stay in business during the pandemic. This statistic is echoed by BBC in an article that says, “The pandemic has triggered seismic shifts in how companies work, causing many to transition from an office-centric culture to more flexible ways of working. The shift is largely still in the experimental phases, as businesses try to conceive of and test effective post-pandemic working models for their operations and staff.”
One of these “experimental” systems that many businesses have found effective is the use of a blended workforce, one that incorporates freelancers with full-time staffers. Although hiring freelancers to supplement a workforce is not exactly a new practice, it is the advent of the pandemic that really propelled it into the limelight. Against the backdrop of the so-called “Great Resignation”, many businesses have found reprieve in leveraging the skills of freelancers as a huge chunk of employees exit the job market in search of better opportunities.
According to a forecast of post-pandemic trends released by Gartner in April of last year, 32% of businesses were actively replacing their full-time employees with contingent-workers in an effort to reduce operating costs— a number that has been on the rise since then. This report shows that 74% of companies were thinking about contracting more freelancers into their workforce, and 28% were planning on hiring more freelancers than full-time employees by the end of 2021. (Are you searching for freelancers yourself? Head to Ureed.com to find freelancers in every specialty you need.)
But the success of the blended workforce shines, just like any other work scheme, through proper organization and management. It is not enough to be vigorous in recruiting your employees and freelancers, you have to come up with a strategy that ensures minimal conflict and overlap of duties between them and guarantees a seamless workflow. On top of that, it is important to keep assessing whether your blended team is working as efficiently as it should be. That’s why in this blog we’ve compiled some pointers that we believe will be instrumental in gauging how well your blended workforce is faring:
1. Prioritize the output and performance of the team
A great way to measure productivity is to assess the quality of output that employees and freelancers produce. Every business has its desired goals or outcomes, and the efforts put in by each employee should be towards advancing these goals.
However, in a blended workforce, where work is in most cases collaborative, gauging the output of an individual is not enough; it should be measured against team performance as well. It is therefore important to keep an eye on performance at different levels within your company — organizational, project, partner and individual. Having KPIs is a surefire way to ensure that your hires are helping you realize your business’ goals.
2. Invest in strong leadership
Managers who handle the day-to-day of your employees play a central role in increasing engagement and morale. This is why a blended workforce requires leaders who are attuned to the needs of the business, your employees and the changing economic landscape. For your blended workforce to be successful, you may need to adopt management systems like Agile, which, as we wrote in a past blog, requires hands-on leaders.
It is these leaders who have a hand on the beat of your organization, and therefore act as conduits between you and your junior employees. They understand the employees’ pain points and shortcomings and are therefore able to give accurate feedback on the efficiency of the blended staff. Your leaders will also be the ones to bridge the gap between the two classes of employees, coordinate workflow between them and ensure that their output is top-notch and that they always feel valued within the company.
Great managers also regularly assess the relevance of an employee’s goals to the success of a project and the company in general. It is so easy for set goals to fall through the cracks over time, but consistently evaluating whether an employee’s goals are appropriate for their role is just as important as reviewing progress made toward meeting them.
(Not all businesses are prepared to hire middle-managers, which is why Ureed.com offers Ureed Enterprise – an end-to-end package deal that provides you with freelancers, monitors their work, and manages payment and revisions — for all start-ups looking for guidance in recruitment and project management. Fill out this form to get started.)
3. Encourage transparency
For your blended workforce to operate like a well-oiled machine, it is important that the trickle down of information from management to the rest of your staff is timely and concise. If your business is large, with departments and their respective heads, keeping track of how information is passed down within those teams can be an indicator of how effective your work system is. Freelancers, just like full-time employees, thrive on abundance of information, so the more they know about the project they are undertaking, the better their output will be.
Another important communication parameter is cross-communication between freelancers and your full-time employees. Since it is likely that both categories of employees have input on the same projects, it is vital that they can easily collaborate and exchange ideas without isolating themselves into groups based on the nature of their contracts. Open channels of communication among employees helps to foster the growth of trust and respect among them which ultimately makes your workplace more conducive.
Communication also plays a key role in designation of duties. Before bringing on freelancers, it is necessary to speak to your permanent employees to find out what may require the additional input of freelancers. This way, you avoid duplication of duties and the possible friction that may arise from overlap.
To sum up…
A large number of businesses have turned to freelancers to fill the gaps created by the departure of their employees or to meet an increased work load. This has led to the adoption of a blended workforce that many are saying has helped them whether the storm of the Great Resignation.
For a business owner or hiring manager looking to reinforce your staff with freelancers, a trusted online marketplace like Ureed.com,that has been championing for the incorporation of freelancers into the mainstream workforce long before the pandemic made it a necessity, should be your one-stop shop for all things freelancers.