The best worker for your project may not necessarily live nearby – it could be a Filipino living on the other side of the planet, for all you know. Taking on an international worker or two may be worth your time, offering several benefits such as higher productivity, better work quality, and reduced costs. Of course, finding good international workers and managing them could take some doing, especially as you won’t be able to interact with them in person.
AJM Associates – specialists in employee group benefits and insurance options – offers some time-tested suggestions on how to find and successfully manage an international freelance team:
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Evaluate your needs: Freelance vs. in-house
First, take a realistic look at your needs and existing work process. Will a freelance work team offer a good ROI? You should weigh three factors, advises American Express: cost, expertise, and flexibility. When freelancers beat out in-house workers for all three, then hiring the former makes business sense. Be sure to nail down the specifics: Define the scope of your project, the role of the freelance team, and expected responsibilities (and results).
Understand possible challenges
Even if you succeed in building the best team, there will still be challenges. Some of the biggest ones are the lack of accountability, limitations in work scope, communication gaps, and long-term work limitations.
To clarify further, you will be but one client among many, meaning the freelancer may jump ship anytime; they won’t always agree to take on additional responsibilities, unlike in house employees; there will be differences in work cultures, ethics, and time zones; and they may not want to stay on long-term because of lack of perceived growth. Be prepared!
Find and interview candidates
Depending on the type of your project, you can scope out a reputable online marketplace or a niche forum for freelancers. Networking and passive recruiting are also viable options. Keep in mind that online profiles are sometimes exaggerated, so do your homework and vet a candidate’s background thoroughly. Get to know the freelancer with an interview and get a feel for their personality and work ethic. Twine offers suggestions on spotting fakers.
Freelancers from the Philippines deserve special consideration. They have an excellent command of the English language, making them great cultural fits. Furthermore, they have top-tier business skills, are super-friendly, and aren’t afraid of working hard.
Be seen as a worthwhile client
Freelancers – the best ones – see themselves as self-employed entrepreneurs as opposed to workers. They aren’t necessarily looking for a full-time job, meaning your usual recruitment spiel, designed as it is for traditional 9-to-5 workers, won’t always cut it for them. Understand that freelance work is transactional. Be upfront and professional, communicate the scope of the project, discuss their remuneration, and finally explain their obligations and duties to be seen as a worthwhile client.
Get the financial details sorted
First, consider your budget for the team. You will want to offer competitive pay to keep them motivated. Perks, bonuses, and compensations for expenses will be appreciated. Next, consider your tax and legal obligations when hiring foreign workers – you may be required to set up a legal entity to stay compliant. Also, countries may have some requirements for you to follow when hiring their citizens, such as these guidelines from the Philippines Government. It may be easier to hire workers via a freelance work platform as opposed to directly.
Last, hash out how you’re planning to pay your freelancers. Some remittance platforms allow you to send money to workers in the Philippines from a unified dashboard at an affordable price. Look for a platform that offers an attractive exchange rate (which can be an added incentive for freelancers).
Make communication a priority
Communication is doubly important when you’re running a team of internationals. It’s hard to share thoughts, feelings, and visions via an impersonal email or chat across disparate time zones – but it’s possible, and something you need to prioritize. Get your team on a messaging platform and encourage collaboration, just like you do with office workers. Consistently motivate, inspire, and offer feedback to keep them engaged.
Use software to manage work (and workers)
Finally, managing a team of freelancers won’t be easy. Productivity and collaboration apps can be your best friend in this regard. Slack, for example, allows you to collaborate and communicate as a team via group chat. Google Workspace is a fantastic (and free) way to manage your documents and files, as well as track productivity and note important dates.
Running an international freelance team smoothly, not to mention finding good workers, takes time and experience. Sometimes jumping in is the only way to learn how to swim. Don’t be afraid to experiment – get your feet wet by building a trial team of freelancers, and focus on learning as you go.