Market musings

Tips for Managing the Mobile-only and Contingent Workforce 

by Sasha Viasasha
March 15, 2018

There are many benefits to working with a more flexible workforce, especially for companies navigating the sea change of digital transformation. It definitely requires a big shift in business priorities. Each company will have its own set of job responsibilities that can be fulfilled by freelancers, and other work that must remain in-house, primarily business-critical strategic and financial planning. Adopting technology that is mobile-first and flexible is key component to successfully making the best use of the contingent workforce. A strong ethos of clear communication is the foundation of successful collaboration and a good working relationship with contingent workers.

A contingent workforce consists of freelancers, independent contractors and consultants who are not on the company's payroll because they are not full-time employees of the organization.

4 types of freelancers

The growing freelance workforce is certainly not a monolith. From highly skilled experts to college kids doing odd jobs, the freelance workforce is quite diverse. However, even those performing lower value tasks like grocery delivery and data entry are likely to be adept at technology and actively working at gaining new skills.There are a few types to keep in mind, such as:

  • The contractor-freelancer – who is usually looking for short-term, temporary work.
  • The entrepreneur-freelancer --  a business-minded individual who views their work as a product, taking pride in outcomes as well as bringing an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset to all they do.
  • The on-demand freelancer – an energetic hustler performing a range of tasks and relying on their superior speed and proficiency to make money.
  • The consumer-freelancer – who might already be a customer or a fan, willing to trade or barter their services or influence.

Despite the flexible nature of the contingent workforce, businesses often develop ongoing relationships with freelancers, who come to understand and appreciate the culture and strategy of the companies they work for. The contingent workforce is driven by relationships and networks and requires effective communication and clear channels.

Alligning goals of the employer and the freelancer

Unlike an employment relationship, which is more open-ended, temporary and contract work means getting things right quickly, as both the company and the freelancer have a vested interest in getting projects completed quickly, accurately and on time. This requires a degree of organizational efficiency that might take some work, but will pay off hugely as digitization continues to transform the business world.

Some of the biggest benefits of working with freelancers and contractors:

  • Companies are able to access high-level talent and they might not be able to afford on a full-time basis

  • Reduced training and costs; freelancers bring their own skills, software and equipment

  • Ability to scale up quickly, or to expand into a new geography or market

When the freelance economy is the new normal

We’re heading towards a tipping point where it won’t really make sense to have a full staff of employees. As more companies find value in the contingent workforce, the economic penalty of not doing so increases.

While most companies will have a core team, they will come to rely more and more on the freelance marketplace for everything from sales help to technical expertise and creative work. At the same time, they can devote even more resources to creative planning and strategy.

In fact, depending on freelancers means that it’s even more important to have a strong internal culture and strategy, and to communicate that culture so that freelancers can hit the ground running. Good resources might include: 

  • Company mission statement and roadmap, when appropriate
  • Access to relevant documents, videos and articles
  • Clear, measurable goals, benchmarks and timetables

Quick, timely follow-up is essential when working with freelancers. Remember that a contingent worker may have several ongoing projects. If there is a request for information during the project, and it takes several weeks to deliver the required resource, the freelancer might not be able to complete the project in the required time. Because of the nature of freelance work, a tiny blip might delay a project several weeks.

Essentials for efficiency in contingent work

A common scenario might go like this: A company delivers all the information and job details to a contractor, but when they go to start the job a week later, a file they need is corrupted. It may seem like a simple thing to fix, but if the originator of the file is on vacation or off working on another project, and the freelancer is similarly on a tight schedule, it can create a lot of problems. In an employment situation, a worker can simply do other tasks, but the freelancer cannot.

Because of this common scenario, its best to schedule a quick follow up call or meeting after delivering all the job requirements, to be sure everything is on track. If you are waiting on another team member to complete something, don’t give the green light until all the required pieces are in place.

Likewise, documentation is important. Mobile workers aren’t sitting at a desk where they can take notes, so they need a way to easily share and save important details from phone calls. A strategic planning session might occur weeks before the project commences, so having a file to refer back to is important. Voice search, transcription and other voice-to-text services are helpful when keeping track of ongoing projects and issues.

Managing a mobile-only workforce requires a very different managerial mindset. Freelancers value their autonomy and freedom, and generally take pride in their work. They do need feedback, though, and a contact if things go wrong. A collaborative platform like Slack or Trello can serve as a virtual workspace and keep job details organized.

A mobile global platform for the future of work

This new way to work calls for a mobile global communications platform. Spoke Phone allows companies to easily add temporary and contract workers, allowing them to use their personal devices to make and receive business calls. All the data and contact info stays with the company while the employee's private number is masked behind the company line. 

Spoke Phone is now being successfully deployed by companies in pop up retail, field services and recruitment to unify teams, staff events and deliver great service and support across mobile. 

Our mobile platform allows agile companies the flexibility to run their businesses the way they need to. You can add as many mobile phones as you need, for as long as you need them. No training or special equipment is required, all you need to use Spoke is a smartphone. In addition to all the standard features you would expect from a virtual PBX, we’re building smart mobile-first add-ons to service a variety of verticals.

We’re also building special productivity features to help teams in the field. Our sharing features allows team members to clip, save and share snippets of conversations, and to work from a shared call log to answer and return phone calls.

Want to learn more about whether Spoke Phone can deliver a smart solution that answers the call of modern business? Sign up for a free demo and let us show you our roadmap for the future. 

Selecting and Implementing a Business Phone System
A Simplified Guide to Choosing A New Business Phone System