How to Successfully Collaborate with Independent Contractors in the Modern Marketplace

By MBO Partners | May 30, 2024

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Key Points

82% of large organizations are taking steps to integrate and manage independent workers as part of their workforces.

Independent contractors offer enterprises expertise and flexibility.

Effective collaboration with independent talent requires a different approach to managing traditional employees.

Businesses are increasingly turning to independent contractors to meet their needs and remain agile in today’s evolving marketplace. By the end of 2027, the average company expects their use of contingent labor to grow to 38%. And studies from Deloitte and MIT’s Workforce Ecosystem found that 82% of large organizations are taking steps to integrate and manage independent workers as part of their workforces.

The flexibility and expertise that independents offer enterprises can be invaluable. When it comes to managing a blended workforce, the needs of each type of worker should be considered. Collaborating effectively with independent contractors requires a distinct approach compared to working with traditional employees. Here are five ways managers can collaborate successfully with independent talent in the modern marketplace.

1. Establish Clear Expectations and Guidelines

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of both parties involved before a new project begins. Often, the best way to initiate conversations around expectations and guidelines is by including a detailed scope of work in an independent contractor agreement. Outline your desired outcomes and milestones, along with any relevant metrics for success. By setting clear expectations from the start, you can help to prevent misunderstandings down the road. When everyone understands the goals that are trying to be achieved and how you want to achieve them, work tends to flow more smoothly.

2. Foster a Positive Working Relationship

Building a relationship with your independent talent will require investing a little extra time beyond typical project interaction. Think about ways you can build rapport among your team. Introduce them to other employees at your company, host a virtual coffee break or happy hour, or take a few minutes before each meeting to check in and see how their day is going. These little extra efforts can go far in fostering trust and collaboration, making it easier to work together effectively.

3. Provide Resources and Support

Independent contractors are generally responsible for providing all the equipment they need to do their work (laptops, software, etc.), but there are many other ways you can be there to support them during their contract. Help guide them through the onboarding process, take the time to explain how internal systems work, and introduce them to key members of your team. Make sure they know where important documents are housed and ensure they have access. Being a reliable resource and making sure contractors have everything they need to effectively carry out their work will help the project run more smoothly for all parties involved.

4. Embrace Flexibility

By nature of their work, independent contractors are the most flexible type of worker. They are free to choose when, where, and how they work unless otherwise specified in their contract. This can be both a big advantage and a challenge for some managers. Try to embrace this flexibility by being open to adjustments and changes along the way. Talk to your independent talent to get a good feel for how they like to work and allow room for creativity and innovation. Be willing to adapt how you might normally manage your team so you can achieve the best results.

5. Practice Effective and Transparent Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of successful collaboration. From the very start of a project or contract, talk with your independent contractors about channels of communication. Ask how they typically like to communicate during a project and share your own guidelines and preferences. What type of status updates do you want to receive and how do you want to receive them? How will you provide feedback to your contractors and how do you want them to provide feedback to you? Encouraging a culture of open communication and respect will help to build trust and set your project up for success.

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