The business landscape is changing, and it’s changing fast. Tough competition is forcing businesses to cut costs by any means necessary. One way of doing that is to reduce expenses in personnel costs, which has remarkably contributed to the fast rise of the freelance economy. As Australia’s infrastructure is booming, we are starting to notice an increase within freelancing engineers from many sectors; engineering also consists of many other facets such as; Operations, maintenance, renewals, etc. Which means 2 things:
1. The evolution of technology;
2. An influx of projects (more jobs/contracts).
Both requiring skilled engineers.
Working with skilled freelance engineers can benefit your company in many ways, but to get the most out of the relationship, there are a few things you need to consider when hiring an independent contractor instead of a regular full-time employee.
Save your energy
First of all, you have to know what you are looking for in an engineer. What exact disciplines do you need for this particular project? What kind of person would be the right fit for your organisation culture? Make a list of what you want, what you don’t want and be specific. Given the multitude of specialised disciplines within the engineering field when you can straight away discard the absolute no-no’s, you can save a lot of time and energy. This is especially important when offering single task based projects such as, reviewing a design pack or providing feedback on a report, while working with freelancers, since they usually don’t want to waste their time in a lengthy employment process – job interviews are not making them money. Although there is also a process to be followed which requires a lot of back and forth communication to ensure the project is completed correctly with the right talent.
Find the right talent
Finding the perfect match is not always easy, but putting in the effort early on is essential for smooth cooperation and good results. In the wide engineering landscape, a well-functioning platform is an important tool in finding the skills you need – whether it is product design, electrical, CAD, architecture, mechanical, civil or structural engineering.
What is often overlooked when hiring especially in the freelance sector is the personality – even though the engineering knowledge is a vital part, getting the right personality mix in the team is just as important, if not more. Utilise your network and try to focus on assessing the personality and integrity of each candidate as well as their technical expertise.
For mutually beneficial cooperation, in addition to stating your requirements, it is also important to figure out what the engineer wants to get out of this. It might be just the pay and temporary nature of the work but sometimes it can be new skills, experience or something totally different. Clear project plans and carefully drafted contracts will help you with defining what’s expected from both parties.
Communicate & connect
Engineering work is widely collaborative by its very nature – highly specialised engineers have a profound expertise in their area of knowledge but they often need to work with other professionals to complete larger projects. This is why open and clear communication is much needed.
Getting to know your freelancers and making them feel like part of the team just like any other employee can strengthen their commitment and boost their working efforts. Continuous, reciprocal feedback helps both parties to understand what is working well and what needs to be changed.
Manage – but not too much
The importance of communication also arises because the style of management usually differs from managing a freelancer to managing a regular employee. Independent contractors are used to working – well, independently. You obviously can and have to agree on where you’re headed, but a freelancer often wants to be able to define their own way to get there. They generally love the freedom – and that’s why you need to pay attention to how you manage them.
Even though freelance engineers work rather independently, you can’t entirely leave them on their own either. Finding the perfect balance between breathing down their neck and totally abandoning them is a work of art in itself but offering both support and space in the right proportion is the key to successfully managing your freelancer.
There is no escaping that you get what you pay for. If you want the skills, you need to provide a proper compensation. A highly skilled and qualified engineer will presumably know their worth and you have to be ready to pay correspondingly.
Trying to exploit a freelancer is not the way to go, after all – this is most likely not the last time you will need the expertise of a freelancer. When you keep your freelancers happy, they’ll be more inclined to work with you in the future if needed – and also put in a good word about your company to their connections.
A freelance engineer can bring so much to the table – not only in a way of cutting costs but also by bringing fresh ideas and unique insights from outside your organisation – so get ready, get prepared and use the opportunity to boost your company to the next level!