One of the major adjustments employers have had to make in the aftermath of the pandemic is handling their contractor relations with hybrid and remote contractors. Work gets completed, deadlines are met – but are their contractors happy? Do they feel included as part of the team? Do they have the optimal amount of information and feedback to complete tasks effectively? How does the relationship get maintained after the contract ends?
Working at home can be a lonely endeavor for employees. While their in-office counterparts can collaborate in person, contractors sometimes feel they’re getting bits and pieces of information, mostly as an aside during a conversation with an in-office employee. The feeling of being on an island, waving a flag for help, can be isolating and isn’t conducive to a productive relationship between employer and contractor.
Still, there are a number of ways to stay connected, and to encourage collaboration and teamwork, with off-site personnel – improving contract relations overall. Here are four best practices an organization can employ:
All-hands staff meetings. Invaluable information is relayed at all-hands meetings, and management would do well to ensure that the off-site, contingent-employee workforce is included in these settings. Whether talking about projects, wins, pain points or the cleaning schedule for the kitchen fridge, it’s important that all staff members – including those at home – hear and participate in discussions at these meetings. Creating an atmosphere of equality across the full-time and freelance workforce has as much value as the practical benefits of keeping contractors up to speed.
Supervisor meetings. Although contractors work at least somewhat independently, it’s a good idea to schedule a weekly meeting with their clients. It allows the opportunity for a contractor to speak up about problems or issues, ask questions and generally feel connected to a client. Having a standing meeting scheduled can also help remote contractors structure their work weeks and stay organized.
Meetings with colleagues. Any type of collaborative project requires teams to communicate often. Remote contractors should be encouraged to meet with their peers, either in person or via video conferencing, as frequently as needed. These face-to-face interactions help replace traditional water cooler conversations, during which employees can exchange ideas and move forward on project objectives while neutralizing any of those feelings of contractor isolation.
Video conferencing. For both work-at-home and hybrid employees, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet should be used liberally. These apps carve out the necessary FaceTime for employees to complete tasks together, collaborate on project objectives and bring remote employees off the island. Using video conferencing for one-on-one meetings, or larger meetings, helps contractors feel connected to the office.
The common thread across these best practices: maintaining, and in some cases increasing, communication with remote employees or contractors. Building connections to the office for contractors is essential, and goes a long way toward maintaining stronger relationships between employer and employees. Whether in person, by phone or online, any type of collaboration that furthers work objectives and fosters creative collaboration should be wholeheartedly embraced.
Need help managing your contingent labor force? Contact us here to find out how PeopleCaddie can help