The Creative Group commissioned research that found almost 60% of marketing and advertising companies hire freelancers. In that survey, TGC asked those company executives to identify their biggest challenges when working with creative freelancers and the #1 answer is surprising.
The top five challenges when working with creative freelancers :
#5: Getting them up to speed quickly
#4: Communicating or collaborating effectively with them (tied)
#3: Finding skilled freelancers (tied)
#2: Negotiating pay rates
#1: Making them feel like part of the team
Making freelancers feel like part of the team? That’s the biggest concern?
If so, these executives should really spare themselves the mental anguish and invest their effort in a more worthy cause.
I cannot imagine any survey of freelancers where “not feeling like part of the team” was even in the top 10 on a list of concerns.
Although companies are relying more on freelancers, there’s clearly a major lack of understanding about the client-freelancer relationship. And TGC confirmed this with the advice they provided in response to the survey results.
One of TCG’s tips is to “introduce [freelancers] to everyone on the team.”
As a freelancer, you don’t need to meet the whole team. You only need to meet three types of people:
- People who make decisions about your project
- People you need to collaborate with
- People who pay you.
Becoming some type of quasi-integrated team member can become extremely problematic, and those problems could amplify if you work on-site.
It could lower your productivity, undercut your services, and make people more comfortable asking you to do things that aren’t part of your contract. You can also end up in a position where too many people get comfortable delegating orders.
TCG also advised companies to “create a welcoming workspace equipped with basic office supplies, including a computer with up-to-date software…”
This is a piece of advice that sounds ill-informed that’s it’s almost stupid.
First off, it suggests that freelancers generally work on-site. And unless TGC or the firm that conducted the survey cherry-picked specific companies, for “creative freelancers,” that’s not the case.
Second, it blows my mind that you can be a freelancer who is getting clients but you don’t have a computer. Or that you would have a computer but require your clients to provide one specifically for their work.
Third, many freelancers are freelancers partly because we don’t want to work in a cubicle or any other designated corporate workspace. We want to to be free to work wherever we want.
Finally, a workspace, office supplies, a computer… all those are things of value. Whether or not they say it, the more clients provide, the less they’re going to want to pay.
Would you rather have a client invest in creating a space to make you feel like part of the team or invest directly in your bank account?
Freelancers complement the team, assist the team, collaborate with the team, but we aren’t supposed to feel like part of the team. That’s the reason we’re freelancers.
Our goal is to get the information we need, get the job done and move on to the next project. Whether that be with the same client or another client.
Let’s stick to that.
Let’s not get caught up in any team-building charades. It blurs the lines. It’s a distraction. And it can f&*k with your money.