Part-time efficiency: How to work with part-time employees

Part-time employment is a trend in the labor market. According to OECD, there are countries in the world where more than a quarter of all employment is freelance. Namely, it is the Netherlands at 25.2%, Australia at 25.5%, Switzerland at 25.5%, and Japan at 25.2%. Various factors, such as a flexible schedule or a chance to devote more time to personal matters, make this format an attractive choice for both employees and employers.

Julia Bataltseva, marketing director of EasyStaff, a service for organizing work with freelancers, tells us how to manage part-time employees.

Here are some most common problems that managers encounter when managing a remote team.

1. Freelancers are unavailable in proper time

A part-time employee does not have a normalized schedule. In order to get a decent paycheck, he usually works on several tasks at once. According to Workspace’s research, 52.7% of freelancers lead on average 2 projects at the same time. There are also 33% of them who manage four projects at maximum. Only 14% of freelancers venture out to manage more than 4 projects in parallel.

If a manager needs to urgently give an employee some task or hold a meeting with the team, there may be difficulties. Due to different work schedules or time zones, it is not always easy to schedule a call fast on a new task or get everybody on board with a new project. This can have a significant impact on the quality of the result.

Solution: Determine the times when all team members are available for communication, as well as the preferred types of communication. For example, we have employees working in 6 different countries and work from lunch until night (in our time zone). This means that meetings should be planned at lunchtime rather than in the morning, and all personal activities — workouts, time with family, self-development, are relegated to the morning hours.

2. Freelancers don’t have the opportunity for self-development

Part-time employees often don’t get the same opportunities for training and development as full-time employees. According to a remote worker study by Leap this leads to more than half of freelancers experiencing difficulties. In addition, they often have to forget about their career.

Solution: Establish a knowledge base that both full-time employees and freelancers can access. Train freelancers not only in professional skills, but also, for example, in effective time management strategies. This is especially important for young professionals. This way, freelancers will burn out less due to unstable schedules and meet deadlines.

For example, IPSE, a psychological support community, advises almost all young freelancers who have a problem with time management to use the Eisenhower Matrix — it’s a system that helps to single out the most relevant elements from the whole flow of cases and distribute them according to the parameters of completion time and priority.

Just recently, I came across a situation in my work where a highly skilled freelance copywriter wanted to develop in marketing. We just needed an additional marketer who could immerse himself in the product as quickly as possible. So we decided to grow him from a copywriter. With my team we drew up a plan for his development, and I chose training services and books. In addition, the marketers shared with him the internal materials that they had collected during their work. At the moment, the freelance specialist is following the planned track and showing decent results.

3. Freelancer payment

There can be difficulties with payment, especially if the freelancer is in another country or even the CIS region. With many banks refusing to send money there or charging high fees, it is quite difficult to make a freelancer payment overseas.

Solution: You can use platforms that unite customers and performers all over the world. The principle of their work is quite simple: the customer transfers money to the platform, and the platform itself sends it to the executor, taking a small commission.

Examples of such platforms:
  • Solar Staff,
  • Arbonum,
  • EasyStaff
  • Talent Powered,
  • Deel and others.

All of them allow freelancers to withdraw money to their bank account or directly to their bank card.

4. Freelancers are difficult to control

Businesses can face the problem of controlling freelancers, especially if there are distance and time differences between them. Some of the most common problems are that the employee is not in the office and doesn’t respond to messages. They also don’t turn on the camera at work meetings or work asynchronously with the general schedule. But if their work is managed by an experienced manager who uses modern remote employee management tools, the need for extra supervision is negated.

Solution: Control the work with freelancers by a manager from the core team of the company. Train them in goal setting, time management, task prioritization, and conflict resolution. Help the manager develop emotional intelligence.
The complexity of distributed teams is that specialists do not know each other well, and conflicts may arise (especially if teammates communicate primarily in chats or email). Employees may misunderstand tasks or misinterpret the tone of a message: sometimes a neutral statement may be perceived negatively. Therefore, the manager’s task is to make communication as simple, transparent and empathic as possible.

Use services that help you effectively manage a distributed team of freelancers:

  • Visualization tools: Miro, Figma, FigJam
  • Task trackers/planners: Bubbles, Trello, ProofHub. Notion.
  • Screenshot tools: Lightshot, Snipping Tool, Screenpresso
  • Webinars/screen recordings: Loom, Movavi, ClickMeeting.

To develop emotional intelligence I recommend the following books:

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman;
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey;
"Emotional Intelligence 2.0" by Travis Bradberry and Gene Greaves;
"Emotional Intelligence. Harvard Business Review: top 10 articles."
"Emotional Courage" by P. Bregman.

What I recommend reading about negotiation and conflict resolution skills:

"Everything can be negotiated" by G. .Kennedy;
"The Psychology of Influence" by R. Cialdini;
"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu.

5. Freelancers are not involved in the working process

If freelancers are engaged in the company, they often perform better by consistently going above and beyond what is asked of them. This dedication leads to higher employee productivity and project success. A study by the Gallup Institute of American Public Opinion found that companies with higher levels of employee engagement saw a 21% increase in productivity compared to companies with lower levels of engagement.

Solution: Measure freelancer engagement. Gallup studied survey results from more than 35 million employees worldwide and created an engagement questionnaire, the Gallup Q12. It's 12 questions that measure the most important elements in an assessment.

Do you know what your employer expects from you?
Do you have the materials and tools you need to do a quality job?
Do you have the opportunity each day to do the best?
In the last seven days, have you received recognition for well done work?
Do you feel that your supervisor or someone at work values you as an individual?
Does anyone at work contribute to your development?
Is your point of view taken into account?
Does your company's purpose make you feel that your work is important?
Do your coworkers feel their responsibility to do a quality job?
Do you have a best friend at work?
In the last six months, has anyone talked to you about your success at work?
In the past year, have you had opportunities to grow at work?

A properly structured freelance strategy can become the key to business success, especially in the early stages of development, periods of economic crises and in competitive markets.

Pay remote teams and freelancers worldwide in any currency